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THE 



CHRISTIAN MAGISTRATE 



DISCOURSE, 



WITH AN APPENDIX. 



Rev. THOMAS HOUSTON, Knockbracken, 



EDITOR OF " THE COVENANTER. 



BELFAST: 

PRINTED BY STUART & GREGG, GUARDIAN OFFICE, 
108, high-street; 
AND SOLD BY THE BOOKSELLERS. 



MDCCCXXXII. 



1 



THE 



CHRISTIAN MAGISTRATE, 



Romans xiii. 4. 

u Por he is the Minister of God to thee for good. JBut if thou do that which is 
evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in .vain : for he is the Minister of 
•God, a revenger t© execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." 

In writing to the Christians at Rome, the Apostle of the 
Gentiles had given them copious doctrinal instruction. 
With convincing power of reasoning, and with singular 
beauty and propriety of illustration, he had stated the great 
fundamental truths of the Gospel. The ruin and misery 
consequent upon the apostacy, and the degradation of 
the fallen estate, he had (displayed in all their fearful ex- 
tent, that <{ every mouth might be stopped," and the whole 
world be brought in " guilty before God." Then .had he 
turned, with delighted eye, to the glorious remedy, and 
expatiated, with heartfelt satisfaction, on the wondrous 
provision of the Covenant of Grace. The surety-right- 
eousness of the Redeemer ; the method of a sinner'-s justi- 
fication ; the glorious privileges of the accepted believer, 
having their foundation in the purpose of Sovereign 
Love, and reaching forward to an unending eternity ; the 
present safety and security of the ransomed company, and 
its ultimate enlargement, by the conversion of the Gentiles 
and the restoration of Israel — these were the themes on 
which he had dwelt with admiration, ajod &©m which lie 



4 



had opened up a plentiful source of light and consolation 
for the refreshment and edification of the Church in every 
age. The doctrines of our holy religion were designed by 
their Divine Author to be eminently practical — to act on 
ail who would receive them as living and operative princi- 
ples, rectifying the conscience and purifying the heart. 
Accordingly, in the closing chapters of this epistle, the 
Apostle makes a pointed and searching application of the 
great truths which he had delivered. In the twelfth chap- 
ter, the personal duties are chiefly detailed and their obser- 
vance enforced. The thirteenth and subsequent chapters 
present a compend of relative duties and reciprocal obliga- 
tions, and furnish much varied instruction and exhortation 
that " the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished 
to every good work." 

The immediate subject of the Apostle's exhortation in 
the opening verses of this chapter, is the nature and cha- 
racter of Civil Government, and the proper subjection 
which Christians owe to those who are possessed of civil 
authority. I offer no apology for introducing such a topic 
for pulpit discussion. Independently of its own intrinsic 
importance, and of the peculiar circumstances of the Church 
at present, in relation to this part of her testimony, it is a 
sufficient warrant for the course I have taken, to have the 
example of an Apostle of the Lamb, who, in declaring the 
counsel of God, and writing for the benefit of the Church 
in every future age, did, by the Spirit's inspiration, expli- 
citly declare the character and qualifications of Civil Rulers, 
and the duties of subjects. 

It is not needful to offer any lengthened comment on the 
context. Let it suffice to remark, that the " higher pow- 
ers* 1 to which the Apostle enjoins subjection, are the ordi- 
nances and offices which God has instituted for the benefit 
of society, and not any rulers who may happen, by provi- 
dential permission, to possess power over the community. 
The original terms do not denote rulers personally and im- 
mediately ; they might properly be rendered " over-protect- 
inx" or " super-eminent authorities,' and they most signifi- 



5 



cantly and expressively define the character of the power 
to which conscientious subjection is due, and exclude that 
to which it is criminal to yield it. God is declared to be 
the sole author of rightful power. " There is no power but 
of God" — " the powers that be are ordained of God." It 
is of authority or moral power* — the right to rule, the ca- 
pacity to govern, and lawful investiture with office, that the 
Apostle speaks throughout the entire passage. Now, God 
is declared to be the source from which this authority is 
derived, and it is unequivocally asserted, that no power 
which is not sanctioned by Divine approbation can have a 
proper claim on the conscientious obedience of the followers 
of Christ. The offices established for state purposes are 
" over-protecting or excelling powers" appointed by the 
Supreme Ruler, just as in the Church he has ordained 
helps, governments, &c. Submission to them is demanded 
because of their Divine ordination, and because they 
possess a moral character approved of God* Not only 
is the Magistrate's office the " ordinance of God," but 
the Magistrate himself is " a terror to evil-doers, and a 
praise to them that do well." It is completely evident, 
that the Apostle's command enjoining obedience on pain 
of " damnation" or judgment, as the original word might 
be better rendered, says nothing whatever of subjec- 
tion to rulers who cannot make out their claim on these 
grounds — the Divine institution and sanction of the office 
which they hold, and a proper moral character. Prepos- 



* " The text and context make it undeniably evident, that by power here, is 
understood, not a natural, but a moral power, consisting not only in ability, but 
in a right to command. Which power is said to be ordained of God, as importing, 
not merely the proceeding of the thing from God providentially, but such a being 
from God, as carrieth in it his instituting or appointing thereof, by the warrant of 
his word, law, or precept. So that that power, which is to be owned as of God, 
includeth these two particulars, without which no authority can be acknowledged 
as God's ordinance, viz. institution and constitution, so as to possess him, who 
is God's minister, with a moral power." — Act and Testimony of the Reformed 
Presbyterian Church— p. 98— Belfast edit., 1832. 



6 



terous is it, in the highest degree, to wrest the luminous 
statements of this passage from their proper meaning, for 
the purpose of abetting the principles of passive obedience, 
and oppressive and unjust rule. Assuredly Divine revela- 
tion does not, either in this, or in any other plaee, afford 
the least countenance to a system so debasing.* 

Having declared the nature and character of the authori- 
ties to which the subjection of Christians is claimed, and the 
grounds of submission, the great Doctrinal Apostle exhibits 
more particularly in the text the nature of Civil Magistracy 
— the character and qualifications of such as exercise it — and 
the grand objects about which it is to be employed. " For he 
is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do 
that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword 
in vain ; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to exe- 
cute wrath upon him that doeth evil." This statement re- 
presents Jehovah as the Fountain of power. Civil rule owes 
its institution to his holy and beneficent appointment ; the 
person in whose hand it is lodged is God's servant, and 
vicegerent; .and his government, in order to command 
reverence, and ensure conscientious submission, must re- 
flect the features of the Divine Government, and contem- 
plate such ends as are ever before the eye of Him who 
wears the august title of the " Governor among the nations." 
Such, brethren, is the testimony of Him that cannot lie, 
the Faithful and True Witness on this subject. On this 
ground I freely take my stand, in illustrating and defending 
an important article of the faith once delivered to the 
saints. Your renowned fathers testified to the necessity of 
a Scriptural Magistracy as well as a faithful Ministry. We 
would walk in their footsteps. May their mantle descend 
upon us, and the Holy Spirit, who animated them in their 
struggles, and rendered them valiant for the truth upon the 
<:urth, enable me to speak, and you to receive the word of 



* See Appendix — Note A. 



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instruction, so that our souls may be refreshed, Christ ho- 
noured, and God in all things glorified f My text requires 
me to consider, 

I. The Nature of the Christian Magistrate's Officer 

II. His Character and Qualifications. 

III. The Objects of Christian Magistracy. 

IV. The Means whereby these objects may be attained, 

I. The Nature of the Christian Magistrate's Office. 

The text propounds in few, but perspicuous terms, the 
doctrine of Civil Government. The nature, the duty, 
and the ends of Magistracy are exhibited with a clearness 
and precision that we search for in vain in the writings of 
mere politicians,* and that could emanate from Him alone, 
'who is the " Father of lights," and whose kingdom ruleth 
over all. By a singularly expressive term is the whole ori- 
gin and nature of civil authority placed conspicuously be- 
fore us. " He is the Minister of God." The origi- 
nal term,f the same which is applied to designate an officer 
in the New Testament Church, denotes a servant waiting 
upon his master — receiving his appointment from him — and 
entirely devoted to his service. Such is the nature of the 
Magistrate's office. His is a ministry ordained by God, 
and the man that holds it is the servant of the King of 
kings — " the minister of God, attending continually upon 
this very thing." That you may perceive more fully the 
origin and character of this ministry, I remark, 



* " I never, in the course of my reading, met with so perfect a description of 
the nature, the duty, the province, and the design of Civil Government in so short 
a compass, as we find in the first six verses of this chapter. Without reference 
to any particular country, but with a perfect applicability to all, the Apostle lays 
down the doctrine of Civil Sovereignty, according to the Christian law ; and he 
affords another evidence of a truth, which ought never to be forgotten, by those 
who consider man in his social character, that the revealed will of God embraces 
the true philosophy of government." — ftPLeod's Scriptural Fkw, fyc.—p. 113. 

-j- AtUKOVOC,* 



8 



1. Tftai Qm2 Magistracy is instituted by God as the Moral 
Governor of the Universe. 

Jehovah, the Ruler of the nations, is the God of order. 
Power appertains to him alone. All power exercised by 
his creatures is derived from him. To regulate the rela- 
tions which he has established amongst the members of 
the human family, and assist in securing the beneficial 
ends of these relations, he instituted Civil Government. 
The Revealed Will of God not only declares the nature 
of magistratical authority, but traces it up to the ori- 
ginal fountain of order and authority — the Infinite Mind. 
" By me Kings reign, and Princes decree justice." 
" The powers that be are ordained of God." " He is 
the minister of God to thee for good."* These ex- 
plicit and reiterated declarations of Sacred Writ, stamp 
Civil Magistracy with the character of a Divine institution, 
and stand as an immoveable bulwark, equally against the 
perversions of those who, divesting government of its moral 
character, claim for rulers a Divine right to their seats of 
power, whatever be the principles they profess, or the line 
of policy they pursue ; and of such as assign it no higher 
an origin than the social compact, or the sovereign choice 
of the majority of the nation. The former opinion, which 
has been held by court parasites in every age, but which 
few will now have the hardihood openly to avow^ merits 
no serious exposure. Pregnant with the grossest impiety, 
and leading to consequences the most absurd and pernicious, 
it cannot pretend to the shadow of support from the dictates 
of unerring truth. Destitute of moral excellence, no power 
can lay any claim to Divine institution, or have a proper 
right to dutiful obedience. The Spirit of God, in the 
Apocalypse, instructs us to consider the origin of corrupt 
and oppressive rule as referrible to the Author of evil. 
" The Dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great 



• Prov, viii. 15. Rom. xiii. 1—4. 



9 



authority."* The other opinion, that the social compact, or 
the sovereign choice of the people, is the origin of Civil Gov- 
ernment, is equally opposed to the declarations of revelation, 
and the soundest maxims of right reason. Before the sword 
of the Spirit, neither the learning of Locke, nor the eloquence 
of Sydney, nor the noisy declamation of modern infidels, 
can furnish a sure defence for this theory, however plausible 
or inviting. That the social compact f is the origin of Civil 
Magistracy, is a mere gratuitous assumption — a fiction that 
never could have been invented or credited but by men wan- 
dering away from the oracles of Divine truth, and left to the 
bewildering lights of their own imaginations. The nature of 
the case at once renders it obvious that men, in an uncivil- 
ized state, are incapable of forming the compact supposed, 
and universal history proves that it never thus had an exist- 
ence in any nation under heaven. The will of the people, 
let it be farther considered, can never be sovereign, while 
there is a Lord of the conscience, and a standard by whicli 
the acts of communities, as well as individuals, must be 
tried. The moral character of things cannot he changed 
by the voice of the majority ; and though men may call 



• Rev. xiii. 2. 

t The social compuct, as the phrase is employed by writers on political govern- 
ment, supposes men originally without any regular civil government ; that in an 
absolute state of nature they entered into arrangements for framing laws and ap- 
pointing rulers ; and that individually they consented to submit to the will of the 
majority, and to surrender their former rights to those restraints that might be 
imposed on them. Antecedently to this agreement, it is supposed, in this theory, 
that men have no civil rights, obligations, or duties. This system, which re- 
ceived some countenance from the eloquent Algernon Sydney in his " Discourses 
on Government," was fully developed by Locke in replying to Sir Robert Filmer's 
work entitled Patriarcha, which expressly teaches the Divine Bight of the 
absolute power of Kings. It is evident that it proceeds upon the supposition 
which various writers on language have plausibly advanced, that the primary 
condition of man was a state of savage rudeness, little differing from that of the 
inferior animals — an assumption this the most extravagant and groundless that 
can be imagined. The absurdity of the social compact as the origin of civil 
government, is ably shown by Dwight in his Theology, (vol. iv. p. 110); Paley, 
(Works, p. 103, &c); and Brown in his Lectures on the Philosophy of the 
Human Mind, (Lect. xc. p. 608 ) 



10 



evil good, and good evil, their nature continues unaltered, 
and the estimate which Jehovah forms in the case is unaf- 
fected by such erring decisions. Far removed, then, from 
every vain subterfuge to which men have had recourse on 
this article, Civil Magistracy is declared, in the Bible, to 
be a Divine institution, based on the unalterable principles 
of the Divine law. The ministry of the Civil Ruler is 
of God's appointment ; and all the authority which he pos- 
sesses has its origin in the will of the Governor of Uni- 
verse. Such is the Scriptural view of the matter, and such 
the uniform sentiments entertained by our venerable re- 
forming forefathers on this subject — " God, the Supreme 
Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained Civil Ma- 
gistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own 
glory, and the public good." * That " Magistracy is a Di- 
vine ordinance, flowing originally from Jehovah, the Su- 
preme and Universal Sovereign of heaven and earth, as the 
ultimate fountain thereof, cannot be denied." f 

2. Magistracy is placed in subjection to Messiah as Me- 
diator. 

As Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ is advanced to the 
unlimited sovereignty of all worlds. The second person of 
the Adorable Trinity has, in common with the Father, an 
essential dominion, extending over all, and a right to go- 
vern, like his own glorious nature, supreme and unchange- 
able. His Divine perfection constitutes his moral fitness, 
as Mediator, to possess the throne of universal empire, 
and to conduct the lofty administration. Yet is it not 
alone as the eternal and only begotten Son of God, that 
the Lord the Saviour rules the nations. By Covenant 
stipulation, and as the reward of his meritorious obedience, 
Immanuel obtained the government of the universe, and 
sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens. 
In the counsel of peace, he was set as King on the hill 
of Zion ; and, by a sure decree, the kings and judges of the 



" West. Con£ xxiii. art. i. 



t Act and Test. p. 1)7. 



earth were placed in subjection under him. Even when he 
was in the garb of humbled humanity, he himself declared, 
" All things are delivered unto me of my Father ; " * and 
when he had finished his vast undertaking, before his as- 
cension to glory, he proclaimed his royal authority — 
" All power is given to me in heaven and in earth." f 
The Apostles of the Lamb speak of the exalted Mediator 
with delight, and ascribe to him boundless power and au- 
thority. " Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, 
and given him a name which is above every name ; that at 
the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in hea- 
ven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." He 
hath " set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all principality and power and might and domi- 
nion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, 
but also in that which is to come."f Ancient seers had 
dwelt with admiration on the same elevating views — " Unto 
us a child is born, unto us a son is given ; and the govern- 
ment shall be upon his shoulder. * * * Of the increase 
of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon 
the throne of David, and upon his kingdom to order it, 
and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from 
henceforth, even for ever." " I saw in the night visions, 
and behold, one like the Son of Man, came with the clouds 
of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they 
brought him near before him. And there was given him 
dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, 
and languages, should serve him ; his dominion is an ever- 
lasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his king- 
dom that which shall not be destroyed." § As the object 
in whom these bright representations meet, the Mediator 
wears the most illustrious and glorious titles. He is the 
" Governor among the nations"— the " Head of the hea- 
then " — Messiah, the " Prince of the kings of the earth " — 
and on his vesture and his thigh is inscribed the indelible 



* Mat. xi. 27. 

t Phil. ii. 9 ; Eph. i. 20. 



t Mat. xxviii. 18. 

§ Isa. ix. 6, 7 ; Dan. vii. 13, 14. 



12 



title, " King of kings and Lord of lords." It is evident 
the Headship and authority which these august titles im- 
port belong to Christ as Mediator, else they could not be 
said, as in the preceding declarations, to be given him, nor 
could the different ranks of created existences be exhibited 
as put in subjection under him. Considered as a Divine 
person merely, no accession could be made to his power, 
no increase to his glory. As the God-man Mediator, Jesus 
Christ, our Elder Brother, was capable of exaltation, and 
in this character all things are subjected to his dominion. 
The royal Headship of Messiah includes the sovereignty of 
all the nations of the earth, as well as dominion over myriads 
of angelic beings, and the whole material universe. His 
kingdom ruleth over all. M Thou hast crowned him with 
glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion 
over the works of thy hands," says the enraptured Psalmist, 
adoring the Father, and celebrating the honour of Imman- 
uel ; and he adds — " Thou hast put all things under his 
feet." * The enumeration is complete. Uncreated Deity 
alone is excepted; — over every creature in heaven and 
earth, from the throne of the Eternal to the utmost limits 
of Jehovah's kingdom, the Mediator stretches a sceptre of 
absolute and uncontrollable power. Never do the Sacred 
Scriptures anywhere insinuate that Civil Magistracy forms 
an exception — never do they declare that it is not among 
the all things put under him." On the contrary, there 
is express testimony that it is included in the donation. It 
is the Personal Wisdom of God, the Son in his Media- 
torial character, that declares in the eighth chapter of 
Proverbs — " By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." 
" Thrones and principalities and powers"! are distinctly 
mentioned among the objects over which Messiah extends 
his sceptre. True it is, we see them not yet put under him. 
To outward view, they appear in a state of rebellion against 
him, disowning his authority, and impiously endeavouring 



' i's. viii. 5, (J. 



t Eph. i. 21. and Col. ii. 10. 



13 



to cast away from them his cords. Vain in the extreme is 
the attempt. The crown that Immanuel wears shall con- 
tinue to flourish upon him, despite of all opposition. Every 
usurper, in whatever department of government, that will 
not yield him the homage of a willing submission, shall be 
broken to pieces, as the vessels of a potter. The word is 
gone out of his mouth in righteousness, and shall not re~ 
turn — " Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall 
swear." # The Magistrate, to be acknowledged as the 
minister of God by Messiah's faithful subjects, must recognize 
his Headship, and render Him entire subjection in perform- 
ing the functions of his ministry. The Ruler of the kings oi 
the earth claims such submission. The claim has the sanction 
of Him from whom the Mediatorial appointment flows, and 
never are those who would maintain true allegiance to 
Messiah permitted to surrender it — " The Father judgeth 
no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son ; 
that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour 
the Father." f 

3. The exercise of the Christian Magistrate's power is 
defined arid regulated by the Divine Law. 

The ministry to which the Civil Magistrate is appointed 
presupposes a rule by which his political conduct should be 
regulated — a standard to which his civil actions must be 
conformed. Among men, definite instructions are con- 
sidered indispensably requisite to the proper discharge of 
the functions of an office. The minister of an earthly po- 
tentate must have a constant regard to the will of his sover- 
eign, and the fundamental laws of the country must form 
the rule of his administration, else he is unworthy the trust 
reposed in him, and an enemy to the best interests of the 
community. Can it be imagined, that the minister of God 
should be placed in a worse condition than the servant of a 
mere earthly ruler? Is it to be believed, that his appoint- 
ment to office shall be directed, or his official conduct 



* Isa. xlv. 23. 



t John v. 22, 23. 



14 



measured by a rule less perfect than the law of Jehovah ? 
There is not an individual of the vast family of mankind 
who is not under law to God ; — even where the light of 
Divine revelation has never shone, " the Gentiles which 
have not the" written " law, are a law unto themselves." * 
The whole deportment of the individual — his every thought 
and word and action must be brought to the measuring 
reed of the Divine Word ; and just as he stands this scru- 
tiny, is the degree of moral approbation or blame to which 
he is entitled. The rule is of more extensive application 
still. Jehovah's law, declared from Heaven, takes cogni- 
zance of the relations of life, as well as of the hearts and 
actions of individuals. Parents and children, husbands 
and wives, masters and servants, rulers and subjects, are 
bound to reverence its dictates, and perform the respective 
duties of their stations with a single eye to its prescrip- 
tions. There is no evidence that Civil Magistracy is, 
as has been vainly pretended, thrown loose from the re- 
straint of Jehovah's law, and left to be established and 
regulated by the ambition or caprice, the perverted will or 
the blinded consciences of men.-j- Advanced to the honour 



• Rom. ii. 14. 

t " I have read," remarks an able advocate of Scriptural Magistracy, M that 
when Luther had published a book in defence of the Civil Magistrate's office, 
against the old German Anabaptists, who reviled and reproached it, and had 
proved it to be God's ordinance, and very pleasing to him, Frederick, Duke of 
Saxony, having read it, for joy lifted up his hands to heaven, and gave thanks to 
God, that now he knew out of the Holy Scriptures that his calling was ordained 
of God, and that with a good conscience he might now perform the duties of it. 
And, indeed, if magistracy, or the magistrate's office, be not of divine institution, 
no Christian can warrantably, or with a good conscience, meddle with it, or do 
the duties of it; nay, neither religion, nor the conscience of men, nor the Church 
of Christ, has any concern with it, or it with them. The denial of the divine 
institution of magistracy seems to lie at the foundation of all those many vague 
Sectarian tenets now so industriously spread and propagated, impugning and de- 
nying that now, under the New Testament, the Civil Magistrate has, or ought 
to have any power, care, or concern, circa sacra, about religion, godliness, or 
first table duties in general." — Humble Attempt in Defence of Reformation Prin- 
ciples, particularly on the Head of (lie Civil Magistrate— by Rev. John Vairley— 
p. b\—Edin. 1770. 



i 



15 



of a Divine institution, it is the subject of distinct specifica- 
tion in the revealed will of God, and much of the canon of 
Sacred Scripture is employed in exhibiting the character, 
defining the duties, and detailing the acts of Civil Rulers. 
It may be admitted, that in nations, destitute of Divine 
Revelation, the law of nature must, in a great degree, if 
not solely, be the standard of Civil Government.* But it 
is ever to be remembered, that the law of nature is the 
remains of the law of God inscribed on the fleshly tables 
of the heart, which coincides with the moral law, and that 
much of the dim light that shines obscurely throughout the 
darkness of the heathen world, in ancient or modern times, 
is the faint glimmerings of Divine Revelation. So, then, 
even in heathen countries, whatever is excellent in the 
institution, whatever is beneficial in the execution of 
Magistracy, may be fairly traced up to the same glori- 
ous original — the will of the Governor of Universe ex- 
pressed in his holy and perfect law. On this topic, however, 
I am not called at present to enlarge. Christian Magistracy 
is the topic under discussion : — the very title implies that 
the inquiry is limited to the consideration of the office as it 
is exercised by and among men who possess the Bible, and 
acknowledge it to be the only infallible rule of faith and 
practice. With this limitation, can there be a doubt that 
the Scriptures declare the law of God to be a sufficient rule 
for the constitution of Magistracy, and for the exercise of 
Magistratical authority ? Under the old dispensation, the 
Civil Ruler was required, on his exaltation to office, to 
transcribe a copy of the law, to retain it near him at all 
times, and to make it the basis of all his public acts. " And 
it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, 
that he shall write him a. copy of this law in a book, out of 
that which is before the priests the Levites : And it shall be 
with him, and he shall read therin all the days of his life ; 
that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the 



* See Thorburn's " Vindicice Magistrate p. 12, 13, &c. ; "Fairley's Hum 
ble Attempt," p. 34, Set: 



16 



xvonds of this law, ami these statutes, to do them.* The Ma- 
gistrates, who were God's vicegerents, set over the people 
which he chose to be a peculiar treasure to himself, were 
thus required, in express terms, to respect the Divine law 
in all their official proceedings — in their councils, the mea- 
sures which they executed, their domestic policy, and foreign 
intercourse. Thus was it with Moses and Joshua, the 
Judges, and the various rulers that afterwards presided over 
the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.f Often as the Jewish 
Magistrates attended to these requisitions, and walked in 
the path of obedience, is their example the subject of com- 
mendation by him whose Ministers they were ; and bless- 
ings from Heaven, like the fertilizing dews, descended 
upon themselves and their people : and never do we hear 
of them forgetting the claims of the Divine law, and 
turning away their foot from obedience, without being told, 
at the same time, of fearful judgments inflicted by Him 
against whom they had lifted up the heel of rebellion. The 
Judicial Law was an express code specially given by the 
Divine Lawgiver himself, for the regulation of the civil af- 
fairs of the Hebrew commonwealth, and by it were the of- 
ficers set over them required, undeviatingly to abide, in 
their awards and punishments, and in every other article of 
their administration. Numerous, besides, are the particu- 
lar directions given to Civil Magistrates, in other parts of 
Old Testament Scripture, relative to their political conduct. 
Nor is it without an important design that several entire 
books of the Divine Word — as Joshua, Judges, the Two 
Books of Samuel, the Kings, -and the Chronicles, are chiefly 
occupied with details of legislation, the examples of good 
and bad Magistrates, and the character and consequences 
of their administration. Far be it from me to affirm, that 
even these parts of the Sacred Word stand unconnected 
with the progressive developement of the scheme of redemp- 



• Detlt xvii. 1H, 19. As an instance of the strict regard which was afterwards 
shown to tliis |MBOept, see David's charge to Solomon his son, 1 Kings ii. 1—4. 
t See Exod. xviii. 19; Josh. i. 7, 8, &c 



17 



tion ; but assuredly they were designed, at the same time, 
to declare the Divine mind on the subject of political go- 
vernment, and to teach rulers impressively that the law of 
Jehovah is the unalterable and sufficient standard, accord- 
ing to which they are in all things to exercise their official 
authority. The law of the Lord is immutable. " 'Till 
heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise 
pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Until the great ends 
of Magistracy among men be fulfilled, and the Mediator have 
put down all authority and rule, the law will remain unab- 
rogated, and all its requisitions, relating to this office, will 
continue in full force. The typical system was done away 
in Christ. The regulations of the Judicial code, as far as 
they related to the peculiar circumstances of the descendants 
of Abraham, or sanctioned the ceremonial institutions, were 
abrogated when Israel ceased from being a nation, at the 
destruction of Jerusalem; but whatever was moral in 
its provisions, whatever " the general equity thereof re- 
quires," as say our excellent Westminster Divines,* con- 
tinues still a rule of duty to Civil Magistrates under the 
present dispensation ; and sooner shall heaven and earth 
pass away than one jot or tittle shall fail of its binding 
obligation.! In the hand of the glorious Mediator, the 
law is a rule of life for Magistrates in their political, as 
in their private capacity — the exalted standard on which 
their eyes must perpetually be fixed, while, as the servants 
of the Most High God, they perform their ministry. Obe- 
dience herein is the foundation of prosperity to themselves, 
and to the states over whose interests they preside — rejec- 
tion of the Divine law will be inevitably followed by the 



* Westminster Confession, xix. art. iv. 

t The reasons why those judicial laws which guarded the Decalogue are held 
to he still obligatory are obvious. Such laws are moral in their nature — manifest 
at all times the wisdom and justice of the Glorious Lawgiver— proceed upon the 
principles of universal equity— are susceptible of application to all nations, as 
always necessary and beneficial— in their spirit and general principles tkey must, 
therefore, be considered unrepealed, and in full force under the New Testament 
dispensation, and are yet to be faithfully administered by the Cliristian Magistrate. 



18 



displeasure of heaven, and will prove the source of many 
evils both to rulers and people. To Magistrates is the 
voice of warning and exhortation addressed by the Great 
Lawgiver — " Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish 
from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little." 
" The Lord will be with you, while you be with him ; if 
ye seek him, he will be found of you ; but, if ye forsake 
him, he will forsake you." * 

4. Lastly, The Civil Magistrate, as the minister of God, 
employed in human affairs, must be Chosen by those over whom 
he presides. 

Christianity denudes its votaries of no just rights. It 
restrains the licentious, and curbs the sensual appetites 
and irregular passions of men, but it withholds not a single 
privilege, the enjoyment of which conduces to the glory of 
its exalted Author, or the best interests of human society. 
The Magistracy to which Christians owe conscientious sub- 
jection is, indeed, divine, having its institution in the un- 
changeable wilt of God, and being subordinated, in its con- 
stitution and management, to his glorious and perfect law. 
Never for a moment can we consent to lower its claims to 
be considered M the ordinance of God," to please the per- 
verted taste of a degenerate age, or to sanction the imagi- 
nary and ill-founded rights of ambitious statesmen, or of a 
misguided people. We plead the rights of God as para- 
mount to the rights of men. The two, however, are not 
inconsistent. With the Bible of truth as his guide, and 
the glory of the Redeemer as his end, the Christian is at 
no loss to adjust the question, and to determine what is di- 
vine and what is human in Civil Government. Magistrates 
are the ministers of God to men for good. There are not 
wanting instances on record in which God immediately and 
directly clothed men with magistratical power, and set 
them over his people. The appointment of such persons, 
however, was extraordinary, and never can their case be 



• ?%, ii. 12; 2 Chron. xv. 2. 



19 



stretched into a precedent. Jehovah, the God of order, em- 
ploys means wisely adapted to the accomplishment of his 
benevolent purposes. In manifold condescension, he makes 
man the rational and accountable instrument for settling the 
order of government, and constituting civil governors. The 
office, it is true, is instituted by Jehovah, appointed in his 
word, and founded on moral principles, originally im- 
planted by God himself in the human constitution ; but 
Magistrates, in their official character, have an eminent 
concern in things pertaining to human society. There- 
fore are the choice of rulers, the determination of the 
kind and order of government, and the remedy of 
political evils, committed to the people as their sacred 
and inalienable rights.* Magistracy, in this view, is the 
" ordinance of man"\ whether the power be lodged in the 
hands of the king as supreme, or reside with subordinate 
rulers — " the governors sent by him, for the punishment of 
evil-doers, and the praise of them that do well." Even 
under a government which possessed more of the character 
of a Divine constitution than any that ever existed on earth, 
the choice of their rulers was guaranteed by God to the 
Israelitish people. " Take you wise men, and understand- 
ing, and known among your tribes, and I mil make them 
rulers over you." 6i Thou shalt in any wise set him king 
over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose ; one from 
among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee ; thou mayest 
not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother" % In 
the one precept the choice of rulers is referred directly to the 



* I would not be understood, here, as absolutely maintaining the principle 
that an elective is the only rightful monarchy, and denying that, in any case, the 
hereditary succession of the First Magistrate is lawful ; or as, determining the 
question whether a monarchical, or mixed, or republican form of government is 
to be preferred. Such discussions belong to another place. It is sufficient ilr 
the design of the discourse to establish the point, that no rulers, supreme or sub- 
ordinate, can be considered the "ordinance of God," and a public "good" to 
men, who possess not, by the consent of the people over whom they rule, their 
official power, and who are destitute of proper Scriptural qualifications. 

t 1 Pet. ii. 13. t Deut. i. 13 ; xvii. 15. 



20 



people, in the other, the same thing is implied, and the 
investiture is placed in their hands, God's choice probably 
denoting nothing more than his conferring suitable quali- 
fications. The practice, indeed, during the continuance of 
the Israelitish commonwealth illustrated the law. Subor- 
dinate officers were chosen and removed by the people — 
hereditary succession never obtained among them, by Di- 
vine approbation, without their consent; and frequently 
was its order interrupted, that it might be seen that the 
community had an intimate concern in the appointment of 
their rulers, and that in them the power of election was 
lodged.* The right of choice, by the people, supposes 
them judges of the qualifications of rulers, and implies, 
likewise, their right to remove from office, when dereliction 
of public duty has taken place, and the terms of investiture 
are violated. 

The peculiar form of government, the choice of the 
persons who administer it, and the laws by which it 
is regulated, are from men — the people are, moreover, 
the judges how far their interests are promoted by such 
as are set over them, and when their removal from of- 
fice may become a matter of obvious and indispen- 
sable necessity. If this view be correct, and we think 
it based on principles that are indubitable and unchange- 
able, then can we readily perceive the deception attempted 
to be practised, when the Christian Magistrate is repre- 
sented as acting an oppressive and tyrannical part in estab- 
lishing and protecting the Church of Christ, and in restrain- 
ing the enemies of religion. We recognise no arbitrary, 
absolute oppressor, in a proper sense, either as the ordi- 
nance of God or man. The Christian Magistrate, as the 
" ordinance of man," is the people's choice — his public acts 
are the acts of the nation exercising its power through him 
— and in the instance to which we have alluded, all the sup- 



• This point is diecus&ed with much ability by Dr. M'Leod, in his M Scriptu- 
ral View "—pp. 63, 64. 



21 

port given, or restraint imposed, is in accordance with the 
will of the community, expressed through its authorized 
functionaries — the power put forth is the moral authority 
of the nation, exercised for securing its own best interests. 
While I thus, brethren, declare to you the people's impre- 
scriptible rights, permit me to remind you of one limitation 
which must be steadfastly kept in view at every step of our 
reasoning. The order of Civil Government, the election 
of Magistrates, and all that is implied in the constitution of 
Magistracy,* among a Christian people, must be subordi- 
nated to Jehovah's law. It is possible for a people to " set 
np kings, but not by " God, and to appoint " princes " whom 
he k?iows not.f If his mind is not sought, and his law not 
consulted in the whole affair, a deceived heart will turn the 
people aside, and they will appoint rulers destitute of the 
character which Divine Revelation represents as essential to 
those who have a righteous claim to be considered the mi- 
nisters of God to men for good — " a terror to evil-doers, 
and a praise to them that do well." You can never too 
firmly believe, or too strenuously maintain, that to the Di- 
vine law and testimony, in all cases, the ultimate reference 
should be made. To this glorious standard the people's 
choice, and every part of their political conduct, should be 
brought ; if they speak not, and act not according to this 
word, it is because there is no light in them.J Inconceiv- 



m . For the constitution of Magistracy, or what might be more properly termed 
investiture with office, that it may be a moral or divine ordinance, it is required 
that the power wherewith the Magistrate is vested, be, in its nature, agreeable to 
the Divine law — that it be lawful in relation to its subject, or the person possessed 
of office— that its ends, and the conditions on which it is held, be moral — and 
that there be a lawful investiture with official authority. The advocates of a 
Scriptural Magistracy contend for the moral constitution as well as institution of 
Civil Magistracy. See an excellent work entitled, Findicice Magistrates^ by the 
Rev. John Thorburn— p. 46, &c. 

t Hos. viii. 4. 

X " But then, while God has lodged this power in the people, of conveying the 
right of civil authority -to their Magistrates, he has, at the same time, given them 
positive and unalterable laws, according to which they are to proceed, in setting 
up their Magistrates ; and, by the sovereign authority of the Great Lawgiver, they 



22 



ably awful will be the consequences of their rebellion. The 
decree is gone forth, the word is spoken in righteousness — 
" If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of 
the land ; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured 
with the sword ; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken 
it." <; The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee, 
shall perish ; yea, all those nations shall be utterly wasted." * 
Thus have we seen that Christian Civil Magistracy is in- 
stituted by God as the moral governor of universe — placed 
in subjection to Messiah as Mediator — defined and re- 
gulated by the Divine law— and that it flows from the in- 
telligent choice of the people over whom the Magistrate 
exercises authority. Proceed we to consider, 

II. The Christian Magistrate's Character and Qualifi- 
cations. 

It is admitted, on all hands, that an approved character 
is of importance to all, especially to such as are raised 
above their fellows in society to stations of power and emi- 
nent influence. Persons, indeed, there have been, who, to 
cover over the most palpable irregularities of Civil Rulers, 
have taught that it is 6i measures, and not men," with which 
we have to do ; and you are, doubtless, aware that it was a 
principle for a time strenuously maintained by those who 
opposed the testimony of our fathers to a Scriptural Ma- 
gistracy — a sentiment yet pertinaciously held in some 
quarters, that a " due measure of Scriptural qualifications 
belongs not to the being and validity of the Magistrate's 
office." * You, my brethren, have not so learned Christ. 
I require only to state such opinions, for you to perceive 
their opposition to the liberty of Christ's freemen, and to 
the unerring decisions of Divine Inspiration. The balances 



are rxpressly bound to act in agreeable ness to tbese rules, without any variation, 
and that under pain of rebellion against Him, who is King of kings, and Lord of 
lords.'' -Act and Test., p. 97." 
• Is. i. Is. Ix. 12. 

t Answers by the Associate Fresbytery to Nairn's Rea&ons of Dissent, p. 87. 



c 23 

of the sanctuary must be employed in every case; and on 
men, equally as on their measures, when they stand not this 
trial, the follower of the Lamb is bound to inscribe " Tekel " 
— " thou art found wanting." The principle that would set 
aside proper qualifications in the person invested with Civil 
Magistracy, pours contempt on the authority of God pro- 
claimed in his word, and is hostile to the best interests of 
society. We never act on such a principle in the ordinary 
affairs of human life. Masters require the recommendation 
of a good character, and suitable abilities, in the servants 
they employ. Offices of power and trust are not committed 
to persons who are not deemed trust-worthy, and whose ge- 
neral conduct does not warrant the confidence reposed in 
them. Even under a constitution divinely prescribed — 
that of the Israelitish commonwealth — not only were the 
qualifications of rulers made by God the subject of specific 
and frequent announcement, but many of the blessings be- 
stowed, or the punishments inflicted on that ancient people, 
are ascribed, by the Spirit of inspiration, to the virtues or 
the faults of the men that governed them. With such high 
authority before us, are we not bound to contend that in- 
tegrity of character, and the possession of proper qualifica- 
tions, are essential to the Magistrate's office, and must be 
taken into the account in estimating the nature or the mea- 
sure of the subjection to which he is entitled ? The testi- 
mony of the Supreme Lawgiver, expressed in his word, 
is more than usually luminous and explicit on this subject. 
Wicked and oppressive rulers are likened to wild beasts,* 
having as little claim to conscientious submission as. the 
depredator of the forest, or the ravenous beast of the desert. 
Might may, for a time, grasp power, but it cannot confer 
right. " As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear, so is a 
wicked ruler over the poor people/ ' f With inimitable 
beauty and surpassing solemnity, does God proclaim the 
character and qualifications of men in power whom he 



* See Daniel vii. ; Revelation xiii. 



t Prow xxviii. 15. 



24 



acknowledges as his own ordinance for man's good. " The 
God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake by me — He 
that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of 
God"* Is there room left here for diversity of sentiment? 
The Magistrate who rules over men, in whatever rank, 
whether supreme or subordinate, under whatever form of 
government, and whatever title he bears, whether a King, 
an Emperor, a President, or a First Consul, must be 
" just, ruling in the fear of the Lord." There is a moral 
necessity that he should possess these qualifications ; with- 
out them his authority is at an end, and conscientious sub- 
mission is not his due. If such be the case generally, 
much more may it be incontestably shown that Scriptural 
qualifications are indispensable to the character of Magis- 
tracy among a Christian people. The entire passage from 
which my text is taken, is clear and decisive on the sub- 
ject. Christian Magistracy is declared to be the ordinance 
of God ; the qualifications of rightful rulers are exhibitedf — 
they are a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do 
well — the ministers of God, set up for the benefit of men, 
attending continually on this very thing. The inference is 
unavoidable, that Christian states are imperatively bound to 
set over them only those who possess these qualifications, 
or such others as are prescribed in Divine Revelation. The 
connexion is established by the Ruler of Nations himself. 
Due qualifications are inseparable from the character of the 
Magistracy, which is God's ordinance. " What God hath 
joined, let not man put asunder." 

The name by which the Christian Magistrate is desig- 
nated in my text, proclaims at once his character, and the 
moral qualifications which he ought to possess. He is the 
" Minister of God." Does not this august title imply that, 
in his person, he should bear some resemblance to Him 
whose representative he is, and that, in his official conduct, 
he should brightly exhibit the principles of the Divine ad- 



• 2 S.im. xxiii. 3. 



t See Act and Testimony, p. 163. 



25 

ministration ? We look for such a resemblance in the vice- 
roy or the ambassador of an earthly monarch ; and shall 
there be less homage rendered to the King of kings — less 
regard shown to his honour by those who are his deputies 
on earth ? Beyond a doubt, the man who bears the 
sacred name of the Minister of God, should bring to 
the service adequate abilities — be a man after God's own; 
heart — manifest incorruptible integrity in performing the 
functions of his office — and discover fervent zeal for the 
Divine honour and the welfare of society. Designing no 
minute or lengthened enumeration of the qualities that 
should enter int-o the character of the Christian Magistrate, 
I shall view him, as God's Minister, possessed of the attri- 
butes which I have just mentioned. He ought, first of all, 
to be possessed of 

1. Ability for government. 

By Divine direction, Jetfero, the father-in-law of Moses, 
specified this qualification as requisite in those who should 
be clothed with official authority. 46 Moreover, thou shalt 
provide out of all the people able men"* Afterwards the 
lawgiver renewed the command, and required the peo- 
ple to act upon it in the constitution of their magistracy. 
* Take ye wise men, and understanding, and known among 
your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you."f When 
God himself appends the sanction of his approbation to 
the successor of Moses, once and again he speaks of him as 
a " man in whom {'5 the spirit "X evidently intending the 
spirit of government, the natural and acquired talents that 
constitute the ability to rule. These directions are based 
on the immutable principles of eternal truth — principles 
that lie at the foundation of civil society. Moral ability is 
essential to moral authority. A person notably deficient in 
intellectual endowments — in wisdom, prudence, and the art 
of government — however unanimous the choice that called 
him to office, however favourable the circumstances in 



* Exod. xviii. 21. t D<?ut. i. 13. 

X Num. xxvii. 18 ; Deut. xxxtv. 9. 
D 



26 



which he entered upon its duties, can never be « ruler 
ordained of God for good to men. The Divine govern- 
ment is pre-eminently distinguished for wisdom in counsel, 
and energy in execution. Similar should be the character 
of the ministry exercised by the Civil Magistrate. Know- 
ledge of government, wisdom in counsel, and vigour in ad- 
ministration, will secure to him a moral ascendency over 
the people whose affairs he has been appointed to manage ; 
so that although he is their official servant, he will have 
over them a power vastly greater than mere physical force 
can ever confer. The mind of God has been clearly de- 
clared respecting the necessity of this qualification. The 
Scriptures represent it to be the sign of his displeasure against 
a nation, when children bear rule over them. When, for 
extraordinary purposes, God, immediately from himself, 
called persons to office, his method has uniformly been to 
set up men of known abilities. Moses, the King of Jeshurun, 
was endowed with the most eminent gifts ever bestowed 
upon man. The Seventy who were called to assist him, 
were gifted with the same spirit. And his successor, Joshua, 
had, as a principal part of his title to power, the like evi- 
dence of the Divine presence.* Is it not apparent, then, 
that those alone who are able men — men who " know the 
laws of God,"f and who are possessed of moral courage 
sufficient for their execution, can be regarded as ordained 
of God to the Magistrate's office, and qualified aright to 
discharge its functions ? 
2. Decided Piety. 

Throughout the Old Testament, the whole of vital re- 
ligion is frequently summed up in one comprehensive phrase 
— the fear of the Lord. " Fear God, and keep his com- 
mandments, for this is the whole duty of man." " I will 
put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from 
me." \ Now, this principle is again and again declared to 



• Sydney s Discourses on Government, vol. I. p. 29. f Ezra vii. 2">. 

X EecL xii. 13; Jcr. xxxii. 40. 



27 



be indispensable to the character of a Civil Ruler. " More- 
over, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, 
such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness." 
" He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear 
of God" * These Divine testimonies expressly declare that 
the person who fills the chair of Magistracy, to be ac- 
knowledged a rightful ruler by a Christian people, must be 
a pious man. In his heart, the leaven of vital godli- 
ness must be extensively diffused, and his conduct must 
bear evidence that over it there has been exerted a subduing 
and sanctifying influence* Beyond this, too, we are bound 
to consider him as a public functionary, and to declare that, 
as a Magistrate, in his official character and conduct, ex- 
alted piety should shine like a halo of light around him; 
and he should appear as a lovely city, set upon a hill, 
that cannot be hid. Never will you, I trust, my breth- 
ren, so far forget the faithfulness of your fathers, who con- 
tended that the " Minister of God " should be a holy man, 
as to agree with the impious maxim, that the public and 
private character of the Magistrate may be so far separated 
that the same individual may be the servant of sin, living 
in gross sensuality, while yet he may perform aright the 
functions of Civil Magistracy.f No, it cannot be. The 
man who lives without God in private, can never, with safety 
to the interests of a Christian state, be entrusted with any 



• Exod xviii. 21 ; 2 Sam. xxiii. 3* 

f Under the delusion of this deceptive maxim, which is a cardinal principle of 
the infidel philosophy, we have witnessed in our own land the repeated desecra- 
tion of the Lord's day by the highest Magistrates in the nation, by means of 
Cabinet Councils ; and in the highest legislative assembly of the empire, con- 
tempt has- been openly poured upou the God of nations, by despite done to his 
Word, by profane swearing, and a public refusal, on the part of several members 
of the House of Commons, to insert the name of Almighty God in the Bill rela- 
tive to the Pestilence wherewith the nation has been visited. Is it not notorious, 
that the majority of those who aspire to seats in Parliament, have no pretensions 
to strictness in religious principle, and that many of them, in their public declara- 
tions, speak with contempt of a religious profession ? How sincere Christians 
can consistently take part in electing such to bear rule over them, appeal's to u» 
wholly inexplicable. 



28 

pait of the public administration ; and, on the other hand, 
it is morally impossible for an individual, possessed of official 
power, to be a man of religious principle, and at the same 
time to manage public affairs without any recognition of the 
Divine authority, and with as little concern, for the interests 
of religion among his people, as a heathen man or a publi- 
can. Piety, if it characterizes him at all, must pervade his 
whole conduct, and spread its benign influence over all 
his proceedings. The Christian Magistrate, as Heaven's 
vicegerent, ought surely to profess pure and undefiled 
religion himself, and by his example encourage the pro- 
fession of it in others. Habitual reverence of God, and 
a jealous concern for his glory, he should constantly en- 
tertain in bearing the burden of government.* Like the 
Christian Bishop, he must be " a lover of good men," 
making them the men of his counsel, placing in them 
his delight, and esteeming them " the excellent ones of 
the earth." Equally essential for himself and for his peo- 
ple are the possession of the graces of true religion, 
and the diligent performance of its duties. Justice and 
mercy, veracity and temperance, will furnish to him the 
comfortable evidence of the possession of Divine grace ; and 
will shed down a select and holy influence on the com- 
munity. In the faithful discharge of religious duties, Divine 
strength will be imparted ; and as was promised to Moses 
of old,f at the Mercy-seat, he will find an Almighty Friend, 
to whom he may disburden the cares of government, and a 
Counsellor, from whom he will receive direction to manage 



* The administration of out/us by Magistrate* is a case in point, to show the 
necessity of piety in those who hold the reins of Civil Governmentt It is pre- 
posterous, in the highest degree, for a man destitute of habitual reverence £»• 
God's great and dreadful name, and having no right views of the character of 
God as revealed in the Bible, to direct in any way this solemn act of religious 
worship. Need we wonder at the fearful multiplicity of unnecessary oaths in 
these countries, and at the continuance of the absurd and superstitious practice 
of swearing by kissing a book, as long as the Magistrates set up are not possessed 
of due Scriptural qualifications ? 

t Exod. xxv. 22. 



29 

its most intricate concerns. Such were the rulers of old, 
who are held forth by the Spirit of God as examples to all 
future Magistrates. David and Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah 
and Josiab, shed a lustre of attractive piety around them, 
and they stand displayed as public blessings of inestimable 
value to the people over whom they presided.* For the 
exaltation of such men to office in the state did our re- 
nowned forefathers strenuously contend, when they lifted 
up their hands in covenant; and Magistrates with their 
people bound themselves by oath, in every relation to seek 
God's glory and the advancement of the interests of vital 
godJiness.f May the Lord soon restore us officers as at 
the first, and counsellors as at the beginning I 
3. Incorruptible integrity. 

" He that ruleth over men must be just" Rulers must 
be men " hating covetousness." Thus did God address 
the governors set over his ancient people — " Ye shall do 
no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the 
person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty ; 



* The necessity of this qualification in a Christian Civil Ruler is well stated 
and illustrated by President Dwight, (Thelogy, vol. IV. p. 145, 146.) 

t In the Acts of Parliament framed in the reforming period in Scotland, the 
most laudable concern was manifested for the elevation of men of piety to the 
office of rulers in the nation. In the 26th Act of Parliament, 1649, it is ordained, 
that none shall fill any place of public trust in the nation, but such as have the 
qualifications that God requires in his Word. The terms of the Act are these — 
" The Estates of Parliament taking into consideration, that the Lord our God 
requires that such as bear charge among his people should be able men, fearing 
God, hating covetousness, and dealing truly ; and that many of the evils of sin 
and punishment under which the land groans have come to pass, because hitherto 
they have not been sufficiently provided and cared for— do therefore ordain, that 
all such as shall be employed in any place of power and trust in this kingdom, 
shall not only be able men, but men of known affection unto, and of approved 
fidelity and integrity in the cause of God, and of a blameless Christian conversa- 
tion." Many such Acts were passed in that period. Have we not just cause to 
admire the zeal and devotedness of our ancestors ? Let those who reproach us 
with saying we want a Covenanting King, show us public men and public acts in 
connexion with the systems to which they are pledged, worthy for a moment to 
be compared with those to which we have alluded, and then, but ra>t till then, 
will their ridicule have meaning. 



30 



but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour."* 
These principles still form the immutable basis of all right 
civil government. The Christian Magistrate should be a 
just man, possessed of a sacred love to rectitude and truth 
in his heart, and surrendering himself to the influence of 
these heaven-born principles in all his public proceedings. 
He is the " minister" of Him of whom it is declared — 
" He is a Rock; his work is perfect; for all his ways are 
judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity; just and 
right is he."f Always should he aim, as God's deputy, to 
display these features in his administration. In his private 
and public conduct, he is equally bound with the meanest 
subject to conform to the laws of the state. The Ruler 
in Israel, as we have seen, was bound to write out a 
copy of the law for himself, and to have recourse to it 
daily ; and this was the declared intention — " That he may 
learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this 
law, and these statutes to do them : that his heart be not 
lifted up above his brethren, and that be turn not aside 
from the commandment, to the right hand or the left." % 
Under every dispensation, indeed, the Magistracy which de- 
serves to be acknowledged as the ordinance of God for 
good, must be " a government of laws-" Not only should 
the Magistrate, in his official conduct, set an example 
of strict regard to the laws, and unbending integrity in 
administering them, but he must provide, also, that the 
subordinate officers selected by him be men of like spirit.§ 
A person is justly held responsible for what is done in his 
name by others commissioned by him, and acting under his 
authority. The integrity of a faithful ruler will lead him 
to purge « the thrones of judgment," and to exalt the 
" excellent of the earth " to places of power and trust. 
Uninfluenced by fear or favour, and far above the schemes 



• Lev. xix. 15. f Deut. xxxii. 4. J Deut. xvii. 19, 20. 

§ See, as examples of this care respecting inferior officers, the instances re- 
corded in Deut. xvi. 18, and Pe. ci. 5- 



31 



of an ever-shifting and deceitful expediency,* he will study 
to know the rule of duty, and to walk continually by its 
direction. With his eye fixed upon the glorious properties 
of the Divine government, and remembering the character 
he is called to sustain and the end of his appointment, he 
will labour to shed abroad, from the high seat of au- 
thority, the influence of truth and justice. Of him it 
will be said as of David, or of Him whose illustrious 
character and royal authority the monarch of Israel dimly 
prefigured — " He fed them according to the integrity 
of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his 
hands." f As the minister of God, he rules for Him who 
is " the blessed and only Potentate." What a motive to 
fidelity in the discharge of official duties is furnished him 
from the consideration of such a delegation ! With this 
high appointment, the command of his King is laid upon 
him, claiming from him, at all times and in all circum- 
stances, unlimited obedience — " Be thou for the people to 
God-ward" " Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, 
but ye shall hear the small as well as the great ; ye shall not 
be afraid of the face of man j for the judgment is God's." J 

Lastly, Zeal for the Divine honour, and the good of the 
people. 

The principle which I have now mentioned, as charac- 
teristic of the Civil Ruler, will supply to him all that is yet 
lacking of proper qualifications for the exercise of his office, 
and thoroughly furnish him for every good work. It is, 
indeed, the sum and centre of all necessary qualifications. 
Devoid of it, a man of estimable private character is unfit 
for the chair of Magistracy in a Christian land; and with 
it, even a Magistrate of inferior attainments will be a bless- 
ing to society. Devoted concern for God's glory, and for 
the best interests of the community, is, in fact, on the testi- 



• This is the professed principle of the public measures of all European 
Governments at the present day. 

t Ps. lxxviii. 72. t Exod. xviii. 19; Deut. u 17. 



32 



moiry of the Spirit of truths at once the prominent feature 
of the Magistracy which is of Divine institution, and the 
perfection of the Magistratical character. He is the minis- 
ter of God, and should he not be " very jealous for the 
Lord God of Hosts ?" He is appointed for ike good of 
men, and ought he not so to act as to be a public blessing, 
employing his talents and influence for the nation's good — 
" attending continually upon this very thing?" We can 
easily admit, that those who seek the magistracy in Chris- 
tian lands, for private, selfish purposes, and who in sta- 
tions of influence neglect the people's interests, through 
love of ease or aggrandisement, abuse the trust reposed 
in them, and can have no righteous claim to conscientious 
support. But we must go farther, and declare that the 
man who discovers not a deep concern for the advancement 
of the Divine glory, and employs not whatever influence 
he possesses for this end, cannot be received by a Christian 
people as God's minister, and his authority cannot be re- 
garded as the ordinance of God. This is incomparably 
the highest object of magistracy among a Christian people. 
Rulers of every rank are to set the Lord always before 
them. H God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; 
he judgeth among the gods."* Gods the rulers of the 
people are, " because to them the word of God came;"f 
the word that imperatively demands of them — " Whether 
therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the 
glory of God."f Magistrates have mainly to do with the 
concerns of Jehovah's glory. To God, whose vicegerents 
they are, they are primarily accountable. Let them pro- 
pose his glory as the great end of their administration. 
Let them actively aim to advance it throughout the nation; 
and, dreading his fervent jealousy, let them, as having to do 
with Him who shall judge angels and men, fearlessly 
oppose and cast out of the state whatever is contrary to the 
Divine honour, and would obscure the manifestations of the 



• Pfcalm hoorii. 1. 



t John x. 35. 



+ 1 Cor. x. 31. 



33 



Divine glory.* Thus shall a blessing from above, like the 
dew upon Zion's hill, abundantly rest upon their adminis- 
tration, and peace and prosperity shall increase like the 
waves of the sea. 

Such are a few of the qualifications which the Christian 
Magistrate ought to possess, that he may appear in his true 
and proper character as the H minister of God," and that 
his authority may be willingly acknowledged by a Christian 
people as the "^ordinance of God." Destitute of these, 
however excellent the form of government, whatever be the 
intellectual talents of the men who possess power, and the 
external benefits secured by their administration, the foun- 
dation of a claim to concientious subjection is wanting.^ 
As the faithful witnesses of Christ, you must always beware, 
my brethren, of appending the seal of your approbation to 
men or to principles that will not stand the admeasurement 
of God's Word. The great principle of Scriptural qualifi- 
cations as essential to a rightly constituted Magistracy, is a 
precious part of the faith once delivered to the saints, and 
it is worthy of being contended for still, by all the lovers 
of Zion. Were men of the character we have described 
exalted to seats of authority throughout the nations, a 
powerful and happy influence would go forth to enlighten 
and purify every part of society. The prediction of one 
who well knew the science of government, and who himself 
eminently possessed the proper qualifications, would be 
realized — " He shall be as the light of the morning when 
the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds ; as the tender 



* Memorable was the concern of Knox, the star of the Reformation in Scot- 
land, on this subject. Addressing the Regent, he declared, that he dreaded 
" more one mass than ten thousand men and, in the First Book of Discipline, 
he and his renowned compeers thus warn the civil rulers of that day—" Let your 
honours assuredly be persuaded, that where idolatry is maintained or permitted, 
where it may be suppressed, that there shall God's wrath reigne, not onely upon 
the blind and obstinate idolaters, but also the negligent sufferers [of the same] 
especially if God have armed their hands with power to suppresse such abomina- 
tion." — First B. Discip. ch. iii. 

t See Appendix, Note B. 



34 



grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after 
rain."* Like the sun of the firmament, pouring his beams 
upon all objects in the lower creation, from the lofty moun- 
tains to the low vallies, the virtuous Magistrate will diffuse 
a high and holy influence throughout every department of 
society. And, as the rain that descends upon the earth, 
combined with the genial warmth of the sun, revives and 
fertilizes it, thus will the example and the influence of a 
righteous governor shed down refreshing blessings upon all 
classes of his subjects, so that the nation will bring forth 
abundantly the fruits of righteousness, appearing like a 
garden which the Lord hath blessed. I direct your atten- 
tion, in the third place, to 

III. The objects of Christian Magistracy. 

These are so numerous and so important, that I can only 
propose a brief selection. In the specification, I shall aim 
to be comprehensive, so that the objects mentioned may em- 
brace others of minor importance, and the great ends of 
civil government may be distinctly exhibited. A chief 
design of the institution of civil magistracy, and a principal 
object of the Magistrate's care, is 

1. The good of the community. 

This may be termed the immediate and direct end of his 
appointment. " He is the minister of God to thee for 
good." For this object did the beneficent King of nations 
appoint him to be his deputy and servant, that he might 
dispense his benefits to the sons of men, and, himself a 
public blessing, might display the riches of the Divine 
munificence. To subserve this valuable purpose, his fellow- 
subjects raised him to power, and invested him with the 
symbols of office. Henceforth he is not only to be to them 
as a head of honour and authority, but as an official servant 
working for their good, and directing all his measures so 
that their best interests may be promoted. If he consult 



• 2 Sam. xxiii. 4. 



35 

not this object, and act not in this manner, he becomes a 
curse instead of a blessing; the end of his appointment is 
frustrated, and manifestly opposing as he does the obvious 
intention of the Divine institution, he is unworthy to retain 
the keys of office, and justly may his subjects refuse him 
conscientious submission. No plea of a Divine right — no 
pretence of zeal for religion, can screen a Magistrate from 
condemnation, if he neglects the interests of the com- 
munity. The public good is a primary concern of his 
government ; over this he is to watch with paternal solici- 
tude — he must labour for it industriously himself, and his 
public and private conduct should ever testify that he is 
" attending continually upon this very thing." The pro- 
motion of the public good by the Civil Magistrate embraces 
a variety of duties, and requires diversified acts of adminis- 
tration. The natural rights of men of every class should 
be clearly defined and publickly declared. These he is to 
guard by wholesome laws, and to vindicate by a rigid ad- 
ministration of justice, and with all the weight of influence 
and authority which he possesses. The peace of the nation 
must be dear to him ; and so should he act, that the lofty 
predictions of Sacred Writ may find their accomplishment 
in the character of his government. " I will also make 
thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness." 
" The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the 
little hills by righteousness."* Mountains and hills are the 
chosen Scriptural emblems for authorities and dignities 
among men. Here the beautiful and expressive representa- 
tion of a good government is, that magistrates of the high- 
est rank and their counsellors, who are likened to mountains, 
and subordinate officers, who are compared to little hills, 
shall harmoniously concur in bringing in and maintaining 
peace, and promoting universal righteousness. It is not 
needful to enlarge on this topic — it may only be added, that 
the moral and intellectual improvement of the people should 



* Isaiah lx. 17 ; Psalm lxxii. 3. 



36 



be a principal object of the Christian Magistrate's care. 
What is said of the government of Messiah — " Wisdom 
and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times,"* is true 
of every rightly constituted magistracy among men, A sense 
of moral obligation must always be in proportion to the 
knowledge possessed. Though the history of some states, 
both in ancient and modern times, f bears melancholy 
testimony that knowledge and sound morality may be dis- 
sociated, and the former may exist where there is a fearful 
prevalence of all that is noxious in principle and polluting 
in practice, yet this will never warrant the Magistrate to 
shut up the key of knowledge from the people, or to 
neglect their improvement. Let knowledge be assigned 
its appropriate place — let it be retained as the " handmaid 
of religion," and never permitted to usurp the seat of its 
mistress — let education be based on the revelation of Divine 
mercy4 and let the culture of the moral principles and the 
affections keep pace with the improvement of the under- 
standing, and then shall we behold the commonwealth at 
once adorned with sanctified knowledge, and with a pure 
and an elevated morality. Will it be questioned that the 
morals of the people should be a primary object of the 
Magistrate's care? His commission from heaven places 
this before him as a paramount duty. " He is a terror to 
evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well." As a Chris- 
tian, the saints will be his delight, and wickedness will be 
held by him in abhorrence ; and as a Magistrate, he will 
uniformly exercise his authority, so that pure morals may 
prevail, and all iniquity, as ashamed, stop the mouth. § The 
example of the pious monarch of Israel, the " man after 



• Isaiah xxxiii. 5. t Witness Rome, France, and Britain. 

t See Appendix, NoteC. 

§ How little regard is shown to the morals of the community by the Magistrates 
of the present day, is seen in their countenancing theatres, permitting the travel- 
ling of Sabbath mails, steam-packets, &c., encouraging horse-racing and regattas, 
and in refraining from putting down haunts of prostitution. While such prac- 
tices prevail, and the Magistrate interferes not to prevent them, does his conduct 



37 



God's own heart," will be the object of his constant imita- 
tion — " I hate the work of them that turn aside ; it shall 
not cleave to me. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of 
the land, that they may dwell with me ; he that walketh in 
a perfect way, he shall serve me."* 
2. The jpromotioji of true religion. 

" Magistrates," says the excellent Matthew Henry, 
" must rule in the fear of God ; that is, must themselves be 
possessed of the fear of God, by which they will be effect- 
ually restrained from all acts of injustice and oppression. 
They must also endeavour to promote the fear of God ; that 
is, the practice of religion among those over whom they 
rule. The Magistrate is to be the keeper of both tables, and 
to promote both godliness and honesty."f The good of 
the community can never be consulted aright by the Magis- 
trate, if he overlooks their spiritual good, and is uncon- 
cerned about the interests of religion. Independently of 
his concern with religion as the appointed means of advanc- 
ing the Divine glory, he is bound to promote it, because of 
its intrinsic excellence, and because of its powerful influence 
in securing the peace and prosperity, the comfort and hap- 
piness of civil society. Far be it from me to plead the 
employment of religion as an engine of state-policy, or to 
advocate the promotion of false religion, or of Christianity 
under a corrupted form, by the rulers of the earth. Too 
long have the princes of Christendom maintained con- 
nexion with the mother of harlots, who makes all nations 
drunk with the wine of the cup of her fornications4 Too 
long have the monarchs of Europe, the ten horns of the 
Antichristian Beast, perverted religion for secular pur- 



warrant the conclusion that he is God's minister to men for good ? And is it to 
be wondered at, that a sense of moral obligation should gradually become weak- 
ened among the people, and that every year the calendar of crime should become 
more heavy throughout the nation ? 

* Psalm ci. 3, 6. f Henry's Commentary— Note on 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. 

+ Rev. xviii. 3. 



38 



poses, and caused her to pander to their pride and their 
despotism. The day of retribution is approaching. God 
forbid that I should attempt to stay the time of vengeance ; 
rather would I perform the office of the living creature be- 
fore the throne, who delivers the vials of wrath into the 
hand of the angels, to pour them out on the Antichristian 
earth. 66 Arise, O Lord, and plead thine own cause. ,, 
But, my brethren, while we willingly admit that much evil 
has been done by mere worldly politicians, under the guise 
of religion, we must not refrain from declaring that the civil 
ruler is indispensably bound by the law of heaven to promote 
true religion, as the best means of advancing the people's 
welfare. It is of the ends of Christian Magistracy that we 
speak, and of course we contend that the promotion of the true 
religion, and of none other, is his province. We advocate 
no abuses, we plead the cause of no corrupt systems. The 
holy religion of Jesus, and it alone, is the object of the 
Magistrate's care, and the promotion of this system, en- 
stamped with the features of Divinity in its origin and 
character, must be a chief object of his administration. He 
is bound himself, as God's minister and an example to 
others, to profess it; and to employ his influence to in- 
duce all classes of the community to do likewise. On the 
simple ground, that the welfare of the nation will be thereby 
effectually promoted, he should act in this manner. With- 
out religion, sound morality cannot be maintained, and 
apart from its heavenly influence, civilization can make little 
progress, and peace and righteousness and prosperity, in 
any country, will make no permanent abode. It is the 
principles of religion that give the highest sanctions to 
human laws, and that render them of sufficient force to 
restrain the lawless and disobedient members of human 
society. Without the belief of a Supreme Being, the doc- 
trine of Providence, and a future state of punishment, the 
most rigorous laws would be ropes of sand, and even capital 
punishments would impress little terror. And, can it for a 
moment be supposed, that that Magistrate is duly concerned 



39 



for the good of his subjects, who never provides for their 
spiritual interests, and who limits all his attentions to 
the fleeting concerns of their earthly duration? Rea- 
son, equally with religion, forbids the supposition. What 
should we think of the parent, the husband, and the master, 
who would act in this manner? While they lavish all 
their attention on the bodily estate of those who are tenderly 
related to them, and utterly neglect their spiritual and 
eternal destinies, would we hesitate to conclude that theirs 
was only the semblance and not the reality of genuine 
affection ? Similar must be our inference respecting the 
conduct of the Magistrate who busies himself with schemes 
of mere state policy, and in his administration recognises 
not the commanding influence of genuine religion, and 
studies not continually to promote it. Be it far from you, 
brethren, ever to fall in with the infidel clamour of the day, 
and to say a confederacy with those who declare that 
Magistrates have nothing to do with religion,* but let it 
alone, and that they are under no obligation to advance its 
interests. In direct opposition to this latitudinarian prin- 
ciple, stand the whole conduct and testimonies of your fa- 
thers. Here we are 4< encompassed with a great cloud of 
witnesses." Without exception, the renowned men, who 
were the instruments of advancing the Reformation in Bri- 
tain, from Hamilton and Knox down to Cargill and Ren- 



* The eminent Dr. Owen, in his sermon on " Christ's Kingdom and t/ie 
Magistrate's Power," (Works, vol. xv. p. 499,) uses the following language in 
addressing the civil rulers of his own day — language still applicable to those who 
bear rule in a Christian land — " If once it comes to that, that you shall say, you 
have nothing to do with religion as rulers of the nation, God will quickly manifest 
that he hath nothing to do with you as rulers of the nation. The great promise 
of Christ is, that in these latter days of the world, he will lay the nations in a 
subserviency to him, the kingdoms of the world shall become his ; that is, act as 
kingdoms and governments no longer against him but for him. Surely those 
promises will scarcely be accomplished in bringing commonwealths of men pro- 
fessing his name to be of Gallio's frame, to take care for none of those things ; 
or as the Turk, in an absolute indifferency what any profess ; I mean that are 
not his own, for in respect of them he changes not his God." 



40 



wick, maintained that Rulers in a Christian land had much 
to do with religion, and were under solemn obligations, 
from which they could never be relieved, to promote it. 
The British Covenants are a standing monument of their 
devoted zeal in this cause. In framing these venerable 
deeds, the rulers and the people with one accord vowed to 
make religion the grand concern of the nation, and 
publickly and solemnly expressed their settled conviction, 
that its safety and prosperity could only stand in avouching 
the Ruler of the nations to be their God, and in professing 
subjection to him, by preserving in purity genuine religion. 
Long as these covenants remain, and they will last when 
the proud boasting of the infidel, and the time-serving 
professor is brought down, the glorious truth contended for, 
and sealed by the blood of many valiant leaders in the 
Lord's host — the truth that the promotion of true and un- 
dented religion is a chief end of Civil Magistracy,* will 



* A writer in the talented periodical, the " Presbyterian Review" (No. viii. 
p. 575,) makes the following sensible observations on this topic — " When the 
Reformation delivered Protestant states from the thraldom under which they had 
lain so long, no sooner did their rulers discover that the Bible unfolded the causes, 
nature and remedy of those moral disorders which, existing alike in the governors 
and governed, continnally tended to weaken and disturb society, than their first 
and most obvious duty seemed to lie in diffusing its principles to the utmost 
limits of their jurisdiction, and making its influence co-extensive with that of 
criminal law. Judging of their office by what the Word of God itself declares it 
to be — a divine ordinance for the encouragement of well-doing, and the repres- 
sion of evil-doing, what could, to minds thus conscientious and enlightened, be 
more manifest than that they were bound to promote those great ends by means 
at once the mildest, the cheapest, and the most efficient, and that the Bible itself 
was but a treasury of such means ? Did they feel that to that blessed book they 
were, under God, indebted for a clearer knowledge of their own duties as govern- 
ors, and for more powerful motives to their discharge, than they could possibly 
have had without the knowledge of it ; how obviously were they then engaged to 
communicate the same advantage to their subjects, so that they, too, might have 
an infallible rule to guide them, and heavenly motives to animate them in their 
various callings and stations ! With what impatience would they have listened 
to men who told them that their endeavours to effect this were in their very 
principle Antichristian and tyrannical — as if Christianity in a governor could 
consist in the steady pursuit of heathen maxims of government, and in the syste- 
matic exclusion of Christianity from all his public acts— as if it could be tyranny 



4*1 



continue a main article of the law bound up and the testi- 
mony sealed — the faith once delivered to the saints. 

3. The advancement of the interests of the Church of 
Christ. 

The Divine glory is the great and all-comprehensive end 
which men, whether in public or private stations, are re- 
quired to set before them. To it the Moral Governor of 
Universe has unchangeable regard in his extended and 
powerful administration; and from all his intelligent crea- 
tures, the subjects of his dominion, he demands the homage 
of a paramount and unceasing concern for the advancement of 
his glory. Especially are those who fill stations of elevated 
rank and influence in society required to set the Lord con- 
tinually before them, and to render their public proceedings 
subservient to the promotion of the Divine honour. Magis- 
trates are God's minister s, ordained by him to display the glory 
and riches of his kingdom, and to dispense its treasures. 
Is it not expected of an ambassador that the honour of his 
sovereign should be dear to him? Should not the vice- 
gerent of royalty exercise a chief concern that the glory of 
his master should be preserved untarnished, and the bene- 
volent purposes of his reign should be accomplished ? We 
would hold the man in such a station a traitor, and his 
conduct deserving the highest reprobation, who would act 
otherwise. On similar grounds, we contend that God's 
glory is # the grand design to be subserved by the institu- 



te) woo men to the love and practice of virtue by the preaching of the Gospel, 
and the discipline of the Church of Christ, rather than to allow their natural 
corruption and ignorance to ripen into disorder and crime, and then address 
them for the first time, not in mercy, but in the stern voice of criminal law ! 
Yet there are some professedly Christian men amongst us, who cannot forgive 
the heads of the Protestant states for having reasoned thus, and who would have 
preferred seeing parishes made mere civil divisions, each marked, like our an- 
cient baronies, by their peculiar dungeon-keeps and gallow-trees, than have had 
the majesty of the king softened and made venerable in the eyes of the people, 
by being everywhere associated with an acknowledged Gospel, public Christian 
temples, and an endowed, and therefore doubly responsible, Christian ministry." 

* The following remarks, by the excellent and judicious Dr. M'Crie, fully cor- 
roborate the sentiments which we have advanced— " The obligation which all are 



42 



tion of Civil Magistracy — an object this to which the good 
of the community is only subordinate, and in comparison of 
which all other objects sink into insignificance. 

In aiming to accomplish this high end, the Christian 
Magistrate, we need scarcely say, is peculiarly called upon 
to exercise his authority and employ his influence for pro- 
moting the interests of the Redeemer's Church. Just in 
proportion as the Church of Christ is exalted upon the 
top of the hills, and her true interests are advanced, 
so will the light of the Divine glory be spread abroad, 
and the honour of the mighty King who dwells in Zion 
promoted. The obligation of nations as such, and of 
civil rulers who act as God's vicegerents on earth, to 
minister to the Church's welfare, and to direct all their 
concerns to the advancement of her prosperity, can never 
be evaded, without incurring the displeasure of Him 
who " ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth," and 
becoming liable to the tremendous consequences — " The 
nation that will not serve thee (i. e. the Church) shall 
perish; yea, all those nations shall be utterly wasted."* 



under individually to maintain the honour, and support the worship of God, at- 
taches in an especial manner to nations and those who are in puhlic authority 
over them. ' Let us begin with God,' is a maxim applicable to the formation of 
civil society and laws, as well as to other important undertakings. Men are not 
to herd together, like a number of cattle, making provision merely for their ex- 
ternal protection, accommodation and order, forgetting the God that is above. 
A constitution which did not recognise religion, nor make any provision for its 
maintenance and defence, would be in so far an Atheistical constitution. As 
magistracy is an ordinance of God, and those invested with it, though chosen by 
men, are the ' ministers of God,' such persons must be under special obligations 
to maintain his honour. This they are bound to do, not merely by the preserva- 
tion of justice and peace, but by promoting his worship in their official station, 
mm) by resenting open indignities and contempt offered to the Majesty of heaven, 
by whom they rule and decree justice." — (See an able pamphlet by Dr. M'Crie, 
entitled a " Statement of the Difference between the Profession of the Reformed 
Church of Scotland as adopted by Seceders, and the Profession contained in the 
New Testimony and other Acts lately adopted by the General Associate Synod," 
p. 111. This masterly production advocates throughout, on the subject of the 
Magistrate's power circa sacra, the doctrines advanced in this discourse.). 
• Isa. lx. ML 



43 



Bright and cheering are the declarations which proclaim 
the concern of nations and the interest of civil rulers in this 
matter — " The nations of them that are saved shall walk in 
the light of it, (the city of the Lord,) and the kings of the 
earth do bring their glory and their honour into it." " The 
Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the bright- 
ness of thy rising."* 

While we claim for the Redeemer's Church the counte- 
nance and support of the Christian Magistrate, you will not 
mistake our argument, brethren, as if we meant to assign 
to the civil ruler a lordship over the Church — an Erastian 
supremacy in things pertaining to the body of Christ. Most 
cheerfully do I admit, in the fullest sense that fair interpre- 
tation will bear, the truth that the Redeemer's " kingdom 
is not of this world ;" and utterly do I disclaim, as a mon- 
strous invasion of the exclusive prerogative of the Lord 
Jesus, the assumed right of the Magistrate to prescribe to 
the Church articles of faith, or to model for state purposes 
her policy. A spiritual or ecclesiastical supremacy in re- 
gard to doctrine or worship, discipline or government, he 
has not; authority to administer any religious ordinance, 
or to direct or control its administration, he may not claim ; 
and there pertains to him no power whatever over the min- 
isters or private members of the Church, except in a civil 
respect, and as they are his subjects. Against all such 
claims as, in these articles, have been arrogantly made by 
the princes of the earth, and impiously admitted by time- 
serving sycophants, and men unconcerned about the Re- 
deemer's glory, the fearful denunciations of Jehovah's 
word, and the melancholy examples of disobedience therein 
exhibited, stand on record. The kingdom of Israel was 
rent from Saul and his house, because, in a case of emer- 
gency, he presumed to offer sacrifice, and exercise the 
functions of the priest's office. And when another monarch, 
in the pride of his heart, went into the temple to burn in- 



* Rev. xxi. 25; Isa. lx. 2. 



\ 



44 



cense, Azariah and eighty priests of the Lord reproved his 
presumption, and denounced against him the vengeance of 
heaven — " It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn 
incense unto the Lord, but unto the priests the sons of 
Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense : go out of the 
sanctuary ; for thou hast trespassed : neither shall it be for 
thine honour from the Lord God."* The God of Zion 
approved of the zeal of his servants, and by an immediate 
infliction of wrath, he rebuked the madness of the monarch, 
and set up a monument of his displeasure against Erastian 
interference with things sacred, to stand throughout all 
generations. But though it is incompetent for the Christian 
Magistrate, as such, to interfere in the Church's internal 
policy, there remains much for him to do about religious 
matters, towards securing the peace and prosperity of Zion. 

That you may see clearly his duty in this particular, be 
it remarked that, as the minister of God, and the civil head 
and representative of the nation, he is bound to provide for 
the authoritative establishment of the religion of Christ, and 
to maintain it, when established, against all who seek its 
subversion. The nation, as being in subjection to the 
Mediator, is bound to submit to his laws, and to profess 
adherence to his doctrine and worship. And the Civil 
Magistrate, as the nation's servant, is under obligation, to 
present the offering of the state's homage to Zion, and by 
his authority to lengthen the Church's cords, and to 
strengthen her stakes. 

Three things are implied in a National Establishment of 
Christianity, which serve to define the province, and exhibit 
the duty of a Christian Magistrate in relation to the Church 
of Christ. These are, the ratification, by civil sanctions, of 
the Church's creed — public provision made for the efficient 
administration of her ordinances — and the extension to- 
wards her of legal protection in her privileges and immuni- 
ties. Beyond a few words of explanation on each of these 



• 2 Chi on. xxvi. 18. 



45 



articles, it is not needful that I should enlarge. The friends 
of the Covenanted Reformation, who jeoparded their lives 
in the cause of civil and religious liberty, strenuously main- 
tained these principles, and contended for them even unto 
blood. By the Magistrate's sanction given to the Church's 
creed, is not intended a power claimed and exercised by 
him to prescribe to the Church a confession of faith or a 
form of worship. It is the prerogative of Christ alone to 
appoint articles of faith, and to settle the order of the sanc- 
tuary. But should we suppose the body of a nation to 
agree on the profession of the true religion, and, by their 
ecclesiastical rulers, to whom the work properly belongs, to 
have drawn from the Scriptures a particular confession of 
faith and form of worship as the basis of church-fellowship, 
then is it the duty of the Civil Magistrate, by his public 
act, to add to such deeds his authoritative sanction. This 
gives them no spiritual authority, nor does it even increase 
their obligation as ecclesiastical deeds ; and yet it serves 
valuable and important purposes. The sanction of the 
Magistrate renders the Church's confession a national deed 
— declares the faith of the nation — and pledges the honour 
and authority of the state to the public profession and sup- 
port of the cause of Christ and the Church's testimony. 
On this principle, the Covenants of our fathers have a proper 
claim for recognition as national deeds by the rulers and peo- 
ple of the British empire at the present day.* As agreed 
upon by the representatives of the Church, they had only the 
force of ecclesiastical deeds, and could only serve to exhibit 
the Church's faith, or to admit to fellowship or exclude there- 
from ; but as afterwards adopted by the nation's represen- 
tatives, and receiving their sanction, they became in the 
strictest sense national deeds, and however men may please 
themselves in rejecting them, they still have a descending 
obligation on the nation to the latest posterity, f 



* This point is satisfactorily proved and ably illustrated by Brown of Hadding- 
ton, in his Second Letter on Toleration, 
t See Appendix, Note D. 



46 



The necessity and expediency of a public provision for 
the due administration of the Church's ordinances, as an- 
other part of the Magistrate's duty in establishing the true 
religion, are capable of the strictest and most satisfactory 
demonstration. We condemn the tithe system of these coun- 
tries, and we hold it to be as impolitic as it is unscriptural :* 
equally do we protest against any provision for the func- 
tionaries of religion that interferes with the independence of 
the Redeemer's Church, or that binds the ministers of reli- 
gion to an approval of a corrupt and immoral government; 
and gladly would we see the contributions of voluntary 
Christian benevolence for the support of the Gospel so 
multiplied, that the necessity of a public provision might 
be in a great measure superseded. But we are constrained 
to declare, at the same time, our decided conviction, that 
the resources of private Christian benevolence alone, are 



* The tithe system of Britain and Ireland is objectionable on various grounds, 
and should be abolished. The Jews, among whom God ordained that the tenth 
of the produce of the soil should be dedicated to the purposes of religion, were 
an agricultural people ; the case is very different in these countries, and it cannot 
but be considered most unjust to lay the burden on the landholder, while the 
manufacturer and merchant are in a great measure exempted. Besides, the 
Prclatical Establishment is unscriptural and oppressive, and a public tax for its 
support must therefore be viewed as a grievance by such as conscientiously dis- 
sent from it. The mode of distribution of tithe is likewise most unjust— the 
working clergy being left to subsist on a scanty pittance, whilst haughty lordlings 
are maintained in pomp and affluence. On these and similar grounds, we enter 
our protest against the present tithe system, and contend for its extinction. At the 
same time, we would not be understood as objecting against the principle of a 
public national support being supplied to the ministers of religion, and for the 
maintenance of religious ordinances ; nor, as even insinuating that a tenth part 
of the products of industry is too large a share to be devoted to the purposes of 
religion. Such a support, we are entirely persuaded from Scripture and reason, 
the rulers of a Christian land are bound to furnish; — all the objections that can 
be brought against it, have equal force against a provision made for National 
Education, or indeed against any tax levied for preserving the morals, and pro- 
tecting the lives and properties of the subjects. Let the true religion be esta- 
blished, and the tax be levied and distributed on equitable principles, and then 
will it be found that religion is indeed the cheap defence of the nation ; and that 
the money applied for maintaining its ministrations, secures objects greatly more 
valuable to the community than the sums now expended for promoting mere 
literary education, or for supporting police establishments, gaol and workhouses. 



47 

inadequate to furnish sufficient support to the Church in 
her attempt to diffuse the blessings of true religion over the 
whole land ; and, in addition to all that is supplied in this 
way, except something be ministered out of the national 
treasury for this purpose, the great mass of irreligion and 
vice will continue, and the pale of the Church will be 
limited to comparatively a narrow part of the community. 
On the ground of the clearest and most justifiable expediency, 
the Christian Magistrate should yield such a support. His 
duty in this particular is largely exhibited in the examples 
of the godly princes of Israel and Judah, who " consecrated 
their service"* to the Lord ; and fully is the assurance given, 
that in the day when the Lord shall bring again Zion, and 
" the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of 
our Lord and of his Christ," the magistrates of the nations 
shall appropriate a public support towards maintaining the 
Church's ministrations. Kings, in their kingly capacity, 
will bring H gold and incense," — " for brass they will bring 
gold, and for iron silver, and for wood brass, and for stones 
iron."f The Magistrate's duty of affording legal protection 
to the Church in the possession of her privileges, will be 
more largely considered afterwards. Suffice it for the pre- 
sent to say, that the Christian Magistrate is declared to be 
a " mir sing-fat her" to the Church.^ Does not this expres- 
sive designation imply, in the fullest manner, that the 
Church, as the nursling committed to his care, should ever 
be the object of tender and watchful concern— that around 
her he should always extend the shield of his authority, 
and by all the power of law, and the weight of his influ- 
ence, minister to her constant and effectual protection ? 

Here, my brethren, I might rest the plea for the Magis- 
trate's duty to afford a national and legal establishment to the 
Church of Christ. To you, I feel persuaded, the mere state- 
ment of what the phrase imports is enough. Knowing the 
testimonies and sufferings of your Presbyterian forefathers, 



* 1 Chron. xxix. 5. 



t Isa. lx. 6, 17. 



X Isa. xlix. 23. 



48 



you will at once recognise the duty, and be prepared to con- 
tend earnestly for this article of the faith once delivered to 
the saints. But the principle, however obvious, has been 
opposed, and the obligation of the duty has been denied. 
Amid the sweeping liberality of an infidel age, legal pro- 
tection has been refused to the Church of Christ, and an 
outcry has been raised against the nation, or the Magis- 
trate, the nation's representative, establishing religion in 
any form. It were well if, on this article, the friends of 
truth had maintained their steadfastness, and continued to 
walk in the footsteps of the reformers and martyrs. In 
some quarters the enemy has come in like a flood; it is 
therefore our duty, without delay, to " lift up a standard 
against him." We fear not the result. The truth is mighty, 
and it must prevail. Some there may be, who, fixing their 
eye on the corrupt establishments of religion that have ex- 
isted, or that do yet exist in the nations, and anticipating 
their speedy downfal, confound the abuse of the thing with 
the nature of the thing itself. A calm consideration of the 
case will dissipate this delusion. The light of the Inspired 
Oracles is sufficient to dispel the artificial obscurity which 
the prejudices, or the interested feelings of men, may have 
cast around the subject. We invite your respectful atten- 
tion to this ultimate arbiter, when we briefly state the 
Scriptural arguments, on the authority of which we are 
bound to assert the duty of the Christian Magistrate to 
establish and protect the true religion in the community 
over which he presides. " Walk about Zion, and go round 
about her ; tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bul- 
warks, consider her palaces." I might, indeed, argue the 
question on the ground of Christian expediency and general 
utility, and show that, on this foundation, a solid and dur- 
able bulwark might be raised in defence of a rightly con- 
stituted national establishment of religion. I might appeal 
to the law of nature, and prove that even in nations desti- 
tute of Divine Revelation, the remains of nature's light, and 
the traces of the original law inscribed on the heart, have 
testified to the value of the principle which I advocate, and 



49 



led in some sort to its adoption. I pass over, however, 
this ground of proof, and refer you at once to the dictates 
of the revealed will of Heaven — " to the law and to the 
testimony " is my chief appeal. 

First, A civil establishment of religion once existed by 
express and immediate appointment of God. 

Under the former economy, the God of Israel openly 
and explicitly declared his mind in relation to all things 
pertaining to his worship and ordinances. The Church, 
which was then as much the Church of Christ as it 
is now, was, by Divine direction, rendered a chief object 
of the Magistrate's care. To him pertained the care of 
its external order and safety ; a liberal provision he was 
bound to make for the support of its worship and public 
functionaries — by wholesome laws was he required to guard 
its liberties — and the promotion of its welfare was to be a 
primary object of his government. All this, be it remem- 
bered, was by express enactment of heaven. The nature 
of the Jewish establishment is not now the point under 
consideration ; we have simply to do with the fact of its 
existence. That this constitution had its origin in the de- 
clared will of God, is direct and conclusive proof that the 
principle of a national establishment of religion cannot be 
wrong in itself — cannot be oppressive or unjust. God can 
do no iniquity, and, in reference to this very matter, he 
himself declares, that he gave to Israel " right judgments 
and true laws, good statutes and commandments." In the 
Israelitish commonwealth, we have an instance of a system 
of legislation, devised by Jehovah, adapted to the state of a 
people favoured with the true religion.* Amid all that was 
peculiar in that system, beyond doubt, there was much 
in it worthy the attention, and deserving the imitation of 
civil rulers in every age.f Apart, however, from this and 



* See " M'Crie's Statement," p. 124. 

t The duty of a Christian nation, in this particular, is clearly stated by a cele 
brated writer of the Secession— (See " Gib's Display," vol. i. p. 280.) " As it 
was once a peculiar duty of the Jewish nation, so it is peculiarly incumbent upon 



50 



every other consideration, we insist at present upon the 
simple fact, that a civil establishment of the true religion 
once had attached to it the seal of Divine institution, as 
a powerful presumptive argument in favour of the principle 
for which we contend, and to vindicate it from the charge 
of injustice. 

Secondly, The approved examples of Civil Rulers men- 
tioned in the Bible, show it to be the duty of the Civil Magis- 
trate to establish the true religion. 

The rulers of the Israelitish nation felt and acknowledged 
their obligation to act as the " ministers of God," in pro- 
tecting and cherishing the Church. Official support they 
extended to revealed religion, and never did they hesitate 
to interfere, when it was found necessary, to purge the 
sanctuary, and to protect the Church from injury or aggres- 
sion. David and Solomon, Asa and Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah 
and Josiah, stand pre-eminent among the civil rulers of 
old, who brought their glory to Zion, and consecrated their 
power and influence to the service of the Redeemer's 
Church. Their interference on behalf of true religion met 
the Divine approbation, and a blessing descended upon 
their persons and their thrones, proportioned to the activity 
and zeal which they manifested in the concerns of religion. 
On the other hand, when their successors in office departed 
from their ways, and withheld their fostering care from the 
Church, religion declined throughout the nation, immorality 
prevailed, and a long train of Divine judgments proclaimed 
the displeasure of Him whose honour had been affronted, 
and whose Church neglected. It is worthy of special re- 
mark, that every extensive revival of religion that took place 
during the continuance of the Jewish commonwealth, was pro- 



every civil state whereinto Christianity is introduced, to study and bring to pass 
— that civil government among them, in all the appurtenances of its constitution 
and administration, run in an agreeableness to the Word of God; be subservient 
unto the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ, and to the interests of the true reli- 
gion and reformation of the church : as, otherwise, they cannot truly prosper in 
their civil concerns, nor be enriched by the blessings of the Gospel." 



51 



duced by such magisterial interference. It is vain to urge that 
the Jewish government was a Theocracy,* and that this cir- 
cumstance of itself forbids us to plead the official conduct of 
the Jewish kings as an example to Christian Magistrates. In 
the time of Samuel, the Theocracy in a great measure 
ceased ; the people " chose them a king " like the surround- 
ing nations, and God, though he still owned them as his 
peculiar heritage, thenceforward to the close of the dispen- 
sation, administered his government towards them much in 
the manner that he still does towards nations blessed with 
the light of Divine Revelation. Nor will it avail to allege 
that the office of the Israelitish kings was solely typical^ 
and that the exercise of their authority about religion was 
done away in Christ. Then would it follow, that the poli- 
tical duties of their office have ceased too, by the coming 
of Messiah the Prince, and of course that no example for 
the performance of any of them is deducible from the Old 
Testament. But it is not so. Some of the Israelitish 
Kings were personal types of Him that was to come, but 
the kingly office which they sustained did not terminate at 
his appearance; and their concern about religion rested 
upon moral principles, which are of perpetual obligation. 
Besides, it is not Jewish rulers alone that are displayed for 
our ensamples, employing their authority for the encourage- 
ment of religion, aud the promotion of the church's interests. 
Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, pub- 



• A Theocracy, it is generally maintained by sound writers, consists in two 
things—" a system oflaws immediately given to a people from heaven— and the 
exercise of a peculiar providence in supporting and sanctioning that system, by 
conferring national mercies and inflicting national j udgments, often in an imme- 
diate and extraordinary way." In the former respect, the state of the Jewish 
nation was altogether peculiar— in the latter, Christian nations may still be re- 
garded, in some measure, as being under a Theocracy. 

t Some excellent arguments in opposition to this opinion, which was main- 
tained by Glass and his followers in Scotland nearly a century ago, and which 
now seems a favourite sentiment of the opponents of Ecclesiastical Establish- 
ments, are to be found in Muirhead's Dissertations on t/ie Federal Transactions 
between God and his Church— dissert. VIII. p. 405, 406, &c. 



to 

lished decrees, commanding the worship of the true God, 
and securing legal protection to the visible church in re- 
building the temple and maintaining her privileges.* That 
their conduct in these instances had the Divine approbation, 
we know assuredly, not only from the circumstance that 
God promised and actually bestowed blessings upon them 
on account of such interference, but, also, that God himself 
is said to have put the thing in their hearts. Here, then, 
we have a numerous collection of instances, both of Jewish 
and Heathen rulers, exercising their authority in establish- 
ing true religion, and ministering to the church. Does not 
the Spirit thus powerfully teach, that Magistrates are still 
bound to follow such an example, and are they not hereby 
encouraged to expect blessings from above, in the way of 
advancing the interests of the Mediator's kingdom ? 

Thirdly, The predictions of the inspired Word assure us 
that) in New Testament times, Civil Rulers shall employ 
their official power in the establishment and, maintenance of 
true religion. 

As true religion is substantially the same in every age, 
and the church is essentially one, it may reasonably be ex- 
pected that similar encouragement, protection, and counte- 
nance, should be extended to her under every dispensation. 
Accordingly, the page of inspired Prophecy teems with 
bright and glorious announcements, foretelling the intense 
concern that should be taken by Civil Rulers in the peace 
and prosperity of Zion. I can only wait for a hasty glance 
at a few prominent passages that refer to this subject. In 
Ps. ii. 10, the Father, as he declares the decree, appointing 
his Son King upon his holy hill of Zion, lays the injunction 
upon judges and rulers, to yield affectionate and unreserved 
submission to the Mediator, and the command is enforced 
by the intimation of vengeance in case of disobedience. 
The homage required must be rendered by Magistrates in 
their official character, for in that character they rebelled, 



* See Dan. iii. ; Ezra i. vi. vii. 



53 



and impiously sought to break the bands and cast away the 
cords of the Lord's Anointed. Their wisdom it is to dedi- 
cate their willing service to the Lord the Saviour, and 
knowing that he wears the august title, the King of Zion, 
the grand evidence of their obedience to the mandate of 
Heaven will be found in the willing surrender of their 
power and influence to promote the efficient administration 
of the Church's ordinances, and the abundant enlargement 
of her privileges.* Again, in the Seventy- Second Psalm, 
(ver. 10, 11,) it is predicted that to the exalted Mediator 
the rulers of distant nations shall profess subjection, and 
the nations in their national capacity shall consecrate their 
wealth for the furtherance of his cause. " The kings of 
Tarshish and the isles shall bring presents ; the kings of 
Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall 
down before him; all nations shall serve him." Inspired 
prophecy brightens as we proceed, and clearer and yet 
more explicit are its announcements, as we approach the 
times of the Messiah. The evangelical prophet, speaking 
by the Spirit of Jesus, and referring directly to the New 
Testament Church, declares, Isa. xlix. 23 — " Kings shall 
be thy nursing-fathers, and their queens thy nursing-mo- 
thers." The announcement is the promise of singular favour 
to be bestowed upon the church by her exalted Head. 
It expressly foretels that civil rulers shall exercise towards 
her a special care, and an affectionate, constant concern — 
such a tutelage and guardianship as a nursing-father em- 
ploys towards the helpless orphan. Can such a declaration 
ever be reconciled with the opinion, that Magistrates have 



• 44 It is the unanimous opinion of Divines," says JVaUceus, " that the decla- 
ration of the royal prophet (Ps. ii.) is applicable to kings under the New Testa- 
ment ; 1 now, therefore, kings, be wise,' &c. ; that is, yield obedience, and that 
not merely as other members of the church, but chiefly as kings and supreme 
judges." -(Walltei, Oper. torn. ii. p. 35.) Thus also speaks Dr. Owen on the 
passage— "Judges and rulers, as such, must 4 Kiss the Son,' and own his sceptre 
and advance his ways. Some think, if you were well settled, you ought not as 
rulers of the nation, to put forth your power for the interest of Christ. The good 
Lord keep your hearts from that apprehension !"— (Owen's Works, vol. XV.) 



54 



r 



nothing to do with the church, and should not employ their 
authority for the advancement of religion? I can only ad- 
vert farther at present to the very full and explicit prophecy 
in Isa. lx. 1 — 17. Here it is distinctly predicted, that the 
kings of the Gentiles " shall minister" to the church, and 
that she shall " suck the breast of kings." Do not these 
expressions plainly proclaim the employment of official au- 
thority on her behalf, and the cheerful and liberal appro- 
priation of money for her services ? The " kingdom that 
will not serve" her, it is declared, " will utterly perish." 
What is this but saying, that if nations, in their national 
capacity, neglect religion, and refuse the church aid, their 
doom is inevitable ? The comment of Vitringa on the pas- 
sage is full to the point — " Such as are princes and nobles," 
says that learned and eminent expositor, " shall protect 
and promote religion ; shall honour and cherish her minis- 
ters ; procure necessary support for her schools and semi- 
naries ; defend and agent the cause of the church, and, 
without offering violence to consciences, shall, according to 
the rule of the Gospel, employ their authority and means 
for the increase and enlargement of the church."* These 
bright and glorious predictions proclaim the doctrine of 

mamstratical interference for the establishment of true reli- 
o 

gion, and for the support and protection of the church in 
New Testament times. They declare this to be a precious 
part of her future hopes, and a peculiar part of the inheri- 
tance that shall hereafter be given her. 

It will not do, to allege that the doctrine for which we 
plead has no sanction in the precepts or examples of the 
New Testament. Even were this conceded, still the argu- 
ment would stand with undiminished force and conclusive- 
ness. The Old Testament is a rule of faith and practice as 
well as the New. The duty of the Civil Magistrate to 
establish true religion is therein repeatedly declared both 
by precept and example. It rests upon moral principles 



* Vitringa in loco. 



55 

of immutable obligation, and until the opponents of eccle- 
siastical establishments can produce proof that the law is 
abrogated or has ceased, we must regard it as remaining in 
full force, claiming the subjection of rulers and of nations, 
until the consummation of all things. But I go farther, and 
affirm, that the New Testament does furnish a warrant for the 
civil establishment of the religion of Christ. My text declares 
that Magistrates are a " terror to evil-doers and who 
will dare to limit the term " evil-doers " to offenders against 
the requirements of the second table of the Decalogue? 
During the former economy, the care of the Civil Magis- 
trate extended to both tables — of both was he the appointed 
guardian. The person who will confine his power now to 
the second table, and say that evil-doers are the violators of 
its precepts only, is bound to prove his assertion. Till this 
is done, we are warranted to regard the expression as attri- 
buting to the Christian Civil Magistrate precisely the same 
power about religion, as was claimed and exercised, with 
Divine approbation, under the former dispensation. Chris- 
tians are, farther, commanded to pray " for kings, and for 
all that are in authority ; that we may lead a quiet and 
peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."* Does not this 
imply that rulers, in their official capacity, are to »be con- 
cerned for the advancement of godliness as well as for the 
preservation of honesty ? And the canon of New Testa- 
ment Scripture does not close till the promises that secure 
the Magistrate's official establishment and support of reli- 
gion are renewed. " The kingdoms of this world are 
become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ."f 
" And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in 
the light of it ; and the kings of the earth do bring their 
glory and honour into it."J Bright and consoling are these 
predictions. They direct away the mind from the present 
depressed state of the interest of Christ, and the prevailing 
Antichristianism of the nations, and fix it on a period 



• 1 Tim. ii. 2, 



t Rev. xi. lo, 



f Rev, xxi. 24 



56 



rapidly approaching, when the rulers of the earth shall 
submit to Christ's yoke, and shall publickly confess that he 
is Lord to the glory of God the Father ; — and when " what- 
ever is eminent, beautiful, splendid, or praiseworthy among 
the nations, shall be consecrated to the use of the Church 
of Christ " # The full and express Scripture testimonies to 
which I have adverted, respond to the glorious truth, that 
" all things have been put under the authority of the Media- 
tor for the benefit of his Church."\ The thrones and the 
sceptres of earth form no exception. On the contrary, 
from " the principalities and powers" among men, special 
submission is demanded. Though the demand is now gen- 
erally disregarded, these bright announcements cheer our 
hopes ; and assure us, that the period of the Church's con- 
tinuance on earth will not come to a close, till Zion shall 
appear most beautiful, the joy of the whole earth — till the 
religion of Christ be universally established, and all the 
power and influence of the civil state be willingly conse- 
crated to its promotion and service. Such is our argument 
for the obligation of the Christian Magistrate to promote 
by a rational establishment of religion the kingdom of 
Christ. As another object of Civil Magistracy among a 
Christian people, I notice 

4. The restraint and correction of whatever is manifestly 
opposed to the Church's interests. 

The doctrine which I have endeavoured to establish 
respecting the duty of the Civil Magistrate to advance the 
true religion, teaches, by immediate inference, that it is 
equally his duty to restrain and repress by his authority, 
and whatever means are competent to him, all that endan- 
gers the Church's peace or safety, or is opposed to the 
power of godliness. If there is the weightiest obligation 
upon a nation enjoying Divine Revelation to profess the 



• Vitringa in loco. 

t See an excellent work, lately published, by the Kev. Peter Macindoe, en^ 
titled, " The Application of Scriptural Principles to Political Government" 
p. 271, where this point is ably illustrated. 



57 



religion of Christ, and submit to his laws, then the nation, 
or, which in this case is the same thing, the Civil Magis- 
trate, the nation's representative, must have power to re- 
move hinderances, restrain abuses, and punish with civil 
penalties those who oppose just authority, and who attempt 
to burst asunder the cords of the Lord's Anointed. Laws 
without a penal sanction annexed in case of disobedience, are 
but of little avail ; authority without a power of punishment 
to enforce it when resistance is offered, is a mere empty name. 
All the examples of godly rulers of old, to which I have 
alluded, as worthy the imitation of Christian Magistrates 
still, are decisive on the question. Not only did they 
establish and cherish the true religion, but oft, as occasion 
required, they interposed their authority for the destruction 
of idolatry, and the removal of all impediments to the uni- 
versal acknowledgment of the truth. We have no warrant 
to dissever the two parts of the exercise of their magistratical 
authority — the establishment of revealed religion, and its 
protection from injury. Both are equally the subjects of 
Divine approbation, and both are recorded as examples for 
future imitation. Indeed, in the nature of things they can- 
not be disjoined. The establishment of Christianity implies 
fencing it round with laws that have a penal sanction ; the 
fostering care of the Civil Ruler involves in it the idea 
of power to protect and a right to punish. Kings cannot 
be " nursing-fathers," neither their queens " nursing- 
mothers " to the Church, if they employ not their authority 
to preserve her from evil and danger of every kind, as well 
as to nourish and cherish her. 

But we are furnished with more direct and decisive evi- 
dence still, that the Christian Civil Magistrate has a true 
and proper right to exercise his power for the correction 
and restraint of whatsoever is openly derogatory to the 
Divine honour, and opposed to the interests of godliness. 
My text bears unequivocal testimony to the right of the 
Magistrate, ruling over a Christian people, to punish offences 
against both tables of the Divine law. As the " minister of 

H 



58 



God," lie is set for a terror to them that do evil. He 
" bears not the sword in vain ;" he is a " revenger to exe- 
cute wrath upon them that do evil." Words could not 
declare more plainly, that the Magistrate's province is the 
suppression of evil, as well as the promotion of good ; nor 
could language more explicitly teach, that, in suppressing 
evil, the national sovereignty in the Magistrate's hands is 
armed with vengeance. There is no limitation expressed 
or implied in the passage — not the most remote intimation 
that the cases of punishment are to be referred to crimes 
committed against the precepts of the second table of the 
Decalogue, and are not only applicable to violations of those 
of the first. Heresy is elsewhere enumerated among the 
works of the flesh,* and schismatics and heretics are called 
evil-workers.-j- By what perverted ingenuity can they be 
excluded from " the doers of evil " to whom the Magis- 
trate is declared to be " a terror," and for whose punish- 
ment he is said to be armed with the civil sword ? If he 
" bears not the sword in vai?i" he must use it. He is a 
" revenger' to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil ;" the 
vicegerent of Him who hath said — " Vengeance is mine ; 
I will repay, saith the Lord.":): The end of punishment is 
not alone, as infidels have said, the reformation of the of- 
fender — it is revengeful, marking the connexion divinely 
established between crime and pain, and declaring the 
award of guilt in its subject, and not his capacity of future 
improvement^ The original word applied in the text to 
describe the Magistrate's character when he employs his 
power for punishment, strongly expresses the idea of ven- 
geance Ek&koc, a revenger ; or more properly an avenger, 
is the term uniformly employed in the Septuagint to desig- 
nate the person who, under the former economy, avenged 



• Gal. v. 20. t 2 Cor. xi. 13. t Rom. xii. 19. 

§ See some very excellent remarks on this subject by Dr. M'Leod, in his 
" Scriptural View," p. 114. 



.59 



the blood of his kinsman.* On the principle of eternal 
justice that " whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall 
his blood be shed," and by the appointment of Jehovah's 
law, the kinsman-avenger had a legal right to cut off the 
manslayer — nay, he was imperatively required not to spare 
him, if he found him anywhere but in the city of refuge. 
By applying the same epithet to the Civil Magistrate, the 
Spirit, in effect, tells us that he has a similar right to take 
vengeance on those who insult the Divine Majesty, and to 
execute wrath on such as do evil. 

Ere I proceed to a more lengthened statement of the 
argument for this part of magistratical interference, it is 
needful to make two preliminary observations, which you 
will carry along with you in all your future investigations 
on the subject. Our views on this article have been griev- 
ously misrepresented ; you will indulge me therefore while 
I attempt to narrow the field of discussion, and to manifest 
the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 

In the Jirst place — The Christian Magistrate takes cog- 
nizance of offences against the first table, and punishes 
them as crimes against the state, not merely as breaches of 
the Divine law, and not at all as ecclesiastical scandals. 

To church -officers alone belongs the exercise of spiritual 
censures — to the civil ruler it is competent to judge and 
punish offences, as they affect the peace and safety of the 
civil commonwealth. If the nation professes the true reli- 
gion, and publickly declares by the sanction of the Civil 
Magistrate its approbation of the Church's creed, then it is 
abundantly evident that whatever tends to tarnish the Divine 
glory, and is manifestly detrimental to the interests of the 
truth professed, becomes a civil offence, and is justly entitled 
to be visited with penal inflictions. The nation has 
avouched the Lord to be their God, and the Magistrate is 
God's minister while he is civil head of the state, and 
therefore is he bound to vindicate the Divine honour, and to 



* See Num. xxxv. 19—37. Josh. xx. 5, . C| . 



60 



promote the Church's welfare. It is in this view — in rela- 
tion to a nation and a magistracy thus constituted alone 
and considered as civil offences, that idolatry and blasphem 
heresy and Sabbath profanation, should be subjected to 
outward punishment.* 

Secondly, The crimes that are punishable by the Civil 
Magistrate, are those which are clearly declared to be such 
by the Divine law. 

We plead for the execution of wrath in no doubtful 
cases. The Magistrate whose duty we declare is a Chris- 
tian man. As a Christian, he will be gentle to all men, 
instructing the ignorant, " if God peradventure will give 
them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth ;" and 
as a Magistrate possessed of the qualifications which we 
have represented as essential to his character, when he un- 
sheathes the sword of justice, and employs his authority for 
the suppression of vice and irreligion, he will see that the 
crime be clearly exhibited in the law of Heaven, and that the 
punishment applied be sanctioned by Divine approbation. 
The decision rests not alone with the Magistrate's will — 
it is written in the law of the Lord, and the Magistrate, as 
a revenger, has only to execute the wrath recorded against 
them that do evil. It is not heresy or idolatry in the mind, 
but heresy or idolatry publickly avowed, propagated, and 
obstinately persevered in, that calls for punishment. Men 
may hold what opinions they please, and the Christian 
Magistrate may safely suffer them to live unmolested ; but 
should they presume to disseminate such as tend to tarnish 
God's glory, and thereby injure the interests of the Church 



* This statement, which is intended to lie at the foundation of all our reason- 
ings on the subject of magistratical interference for the suppression of gross 
heresy, blasphemy, &c. it will be readily seen, removes many of the futile, though 
plausible objections that are advanced against our doctrine. It is the duty of a 
Christian Magistrate, possessed of due Scriptural qualifications, and ruling over 
a reformed nation, that we have attempted to exhibit throughout the discourse. 
If any choose to make a different application of our arguments, they do it at the 
hazard of putting upon our language a construction which it will by no means 
bear, and of perverting reasoning which they arc unable to refute. 



61 



of Christ, and of the state professing the truth, they are 
justly liable to restraint and punishment. Occasional diffi- 
culty may be felt in determining the precise demerit of the 
offence, and the proper degree of punishment; but the same 
thing may be said of the scandals that come under the inspec- 
tion of ecclesiastical officers, and even of the Magistrate's duty 
in punishing breaches of the second table of the moral law. 
I have already said that, in all doubtful cases, the Christian 
Magistrate should let mercy rejoice against judgment ; but 
he must not forget, at the same time, that, being a revenger 
appointed to execute wrath upon them that do evil, he is to 
abide by the clear and explicit decisions of the Divine law,* 



* The principle that the Civil Magistrate should restrain and punish open 
blasphemy, &c. has been more or less acted upon by almost all governments, 
both in ancient and modern times. The law of nature establishes it, and there- 
fore even Heathen nations have adopted it in their codes of legislation. In 
Greece and Rome, the blasphemer of the gods was reckoned the worst enemy of 
the state. The most excellent parts of the British constitution are those which 
provide for the promotion of religion, and the suppression of such flagrant of- 
fences as are directly committed against God's honour and truth. Till a recent 
period, the Romish idolatry throughout the British empire, was regarded as 
calling for civil penalties ; even yet there are some offices in the state, from which 
the professor of it is excluded. Deism openly avowed and propagated, is, in the 
eye of the British law, illegal. Eminent statesmen in America have declared, 
that the principle of the Magistrate's coercive power in religious matters, ought 
to be adopted generally in the land of free institutions. A venerable American 
patriot and divine commends Chancellor Kent, of the State of New-Yoi-k, for 
u ably vindicating," as he expresses it, " the Christian character of the common- 
wealth, in affirming the decision that ' blasphemy against the Saviour is a crime. ' "* 
The Deed of the Constitution of the State of New- York declares that " blasphemy 
against God, and contumelious reproaches, and profane ridicule of Christ, or the 
Holy Scriptures, are offences punishable at the common law, whether uttered by 
words or writings." Pensylvania has likewise decreed to "forbid or punish 
at common law, or by statute, blasphemy against the Christian religion, or any of 
the Persons of the Holy Trinity." At present, many persons of influence 
throughout the United States are making strenuous exertions to obtain a national 
enactment, to prevent the profanation of the Lord's day by Sabbath mails. Is 
not this another proof, that the principle for which we plead is considered essen- 
tial to the safety and well-being even of communities, that make no national 
profession of the Christian religion ? May we not conclude with the celebrated 
Dr. M 4 Crie,t when speaking on this subject— " It is good that public order and 
peace are not disturbed by every cry of those who are given to change ; and 

* Dr. M'Leod, " Scriptural View," note, p. 192. t " Statement," p, 20. 



remembering the command which God himself has given 
for direction in the case — " Ye shall not be afraid of the 
face of man ; for the judgment is God's"* 

With these observations, I proceed to lay before you the 
proof that the Christian Civil Magistrate is bound to re- 
strain and punish, as civil crimes, offences against the first 
table of the Divine law. Blasphemy and heresy, idolatry 
and Sabbath-profanation, when openly avowed and prac- 
tised, provoke the judgments of Heaven, and the Civil 
Magistrate, as God's minister, is bound to be "a terror" 
to them that thus do evil. The nature of his office — the 
character of the sins — express testimony of Scripture — and 
the sentiments and conduct of the Reformers and martyrs of 
Jesus, justify him in such interference. 

1. The nature of the Magistrate's office, and the relation 
in which he stands to the state and the church, require this 
exercise of his authority. 

The faithful Magistrate is a " nursing-father" to the 
church, and a civil parent to the state. He is the shepherd 
of his people, the chosen guardian of their privileges, and 
the diligent protector of their rights. The relation declares 
his duties, and leaves him no liberty of choice whether he 
will faithfully perform them or not. The case admits of a 
simple and satisfactory illustration from the domestic con- 
stitution. A Christian father considers himself bound to 
establish the worship of God in his family, and to require 
reverential attendance upon it by all his household. Should 
any of his dependents entertain different views from those 
which he inculcates respecting the rule of faith and duty, 
he may bear with and instruct them in meekness, so long 
as they continue in silence to entertain their scruples, or to 
refrain from disturbing the worship or peace of the family. 
But should they act otherwise — should they set up an idol 



that varying winds of doctrines and new laws, which produce hurtful effects in 
ecclesiastical society, do not operate directly in shaking the constitutions and 

peace of nations." 
■ DeuU U 17. 



G3 



in the house, and labour to turn away the hearts of the 
children or their fellow-servants from the ways of the Lord, 
then the head of the family is bound to restrain them in 
their evil courses, and, if resistance is offered to his com- 
mands, he is warranted to proceed to expulsion from the 
household, or to the infliction of such other punishment as 
by the Divine law is placed within the limits of his autho- 
rity. How otherwise can he bear the responsibility of a 
Christian parent? How else can he merit the approbation 
which God gave concerning Abraham of old—" I know 
him, that he will command his children and his household 
after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do 
justice and judgment" ? * In like manner, the civil parent 
should employ his authority for the establishment of pure 
religion and its ordinances in the nation ; and should his 
requirements be contravened, and open idolatry be practised, 
and gross heresy propagated, so as to endanger the church's 
safety, and to disturb the good order of the state, then has 
he a proper call to exercise his punitive power, and avenge 
by civil penalties the dishonour done to God, and the in- 
jury inflicted upon the community. His office as " the 
minister of God" to men " for good" — his character as a 
<c nursing-father" to the church — his relation as a civil 
parent to the state — demand the application of such correc- 
tion ; and never can the Christian Magistrate fulfil the de- 
sign of his appointment, if he does not execute wrath on 
them that do evil. 

2. The character of the sins themselves declares the duty 
and propriety of the Christian Civil Magistrate exercising 
his authority for restraining and punishing them. 

Heresy and idolatry, blasphemy and Sabbath-profana- 
tion, are sins committed immediately against God — sins 
that openly insult and affront him, belie his truth, and dar- 
ingly give to his grand adversary the worship that is his 
due, and the time that he specially claims as his own. 



* Gen. xviii. 19. 



64 



Considered as opposing the church's testimony, and mili- 
tating against her interests, they aim directly to overturn 
the glorious fabric which the Lord hath founded, and for 
which he ever manifests a watchful and jealous concern ; 
and viewed as civil offences against the majesty and safety 
of a state professing the true religion, they tend most obvi- 
ously to subvert the foundations of law and order, and their 
prevalence cannot but call down upon it the visitations of 
Divine displeasure. Can it for a moment be imagined, that 
the Christian Civil Magistrate will witness the commission 
of such sins unconcerned, and, having the power in his 
hands, that he will do nothing to repress them ? How can 
he be the " minister of God," and manifest no regard for 
Jehovah's honour ? How can he be for universal good to 
men, and limit the exercise of his official power to the pre- 
servation of their external property, or to the protection of 
their bodies ? It were a contradiction in terms to call a man 
a Christian Magistrate, or to say that he is God's ordinance 
to men for good, and to declare that he may act in this man- 
ner. If the Magistrate has power to restrain and punish the 
petty thief, the false witness, or the murderer, has he no power 
to restrain and punish crimes openly practised, that kindle 
God's wrath against the nation, and, by destroying men's 
souls, do more real injury to society than the grossest viola- 
tions of those precepts which only respect the bodily estate 
and the outward property ? He cannot but consider idolatry 
and blasphemy, heresy and Sabbath-breaking, crimes of 
fearful demerit — he cannot but be concerned to put away 
from the land such great wickedness.* He rules for God, 
and therefore he must not suffer his name to be dishonoured. 



* It has been alleged by some who deny the right of the Civil Magistrate to 
restrain and punish gross heresy and idolatry, that the greatness of these crimes 
is a reason why those who are chargeable with them should not he punished in 
this way^ and it has been asked, with the obvious design of making out this 
conclusion, " May they not be too great for man to punish — and may not God 
reserve the punishment of them to himself?" To all this, it is sufficient to 
reply, that our concern is not with what God may do, but with what he has re- 
vealed as our rule of duty. The same inquiry might have been put, and the 



65 



His office imperatively requires him to be a public blessing 
to the community, and therefore he must act so that the 
nation may be secured from Divine judgments. 

3. Express testimonies of Scripture, both in the Old and 
New Testament, warrant the Magistrate's restrictive and 
punitive power in matters of religion. 

In the Old Testament we have precepts, examples, and 
promises, sanctioning the exercise of magistratical power in 
punishing offences against the first table of the law. Thus, 
in Deut. xiii. 1 — 6, false prophets teaching lies, or propa- 
gating heresies openly in the name of the Lord, are declared 
punishable by the Civil Magistrate. The design of aveng- 
ing such a breach of the first commandment, is declared 
(ver. 11) to be not the reformation of the offender, but 
a warning to others — " And all Israel shall hear, and 
fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is 
among you." The celebrated reformer, Calvin, expressly 
adduces the passage in support of the right of the Magi- 
strate to punish such as would draw God's people into de- 
fection from the worship of the true God, and shows that 
the same power still belongs to the Civil Magistrate in like 
cases under the Gospel. The punishment of idolatry is 
enjoined in numerous places of the Old Testament;* and, 



same unwarranted inference might have been attempted to be drawn under the 
former economy ; yet the matter was not then left in this state. The crimes to 
which we have alluded were declared to be very greaf, while the punishment of 
them was expressly committed to the Civil Magistrate. The Divine appoint- 
ment in this particular, in its spirit and principle, continues unaltered ; of course 
the Magistrate's duty is clear, irrespective of the crude conjectures of men who 
substitute sophistry for argument. That the increased enormity of crimes re- 
moves them from the cognizance of the Civil Ruler, is a principle directly opposed 
to the practice of all well-regulated states. On this ground, French infidels have 
contended, that even murder should not be punished with death. Others , in our 
own country, who would perhaps take it highly amiss to be ranked with them, 
have, in part, adopted their views,, in opposition to the express enactment, 
" Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." In this, and 
in the instance under consideration, the fallacy lies in substituting the reasonings 
of depraved human nature, or even vain conjectures, for the plain requirements 
of Divine Revelation. 

* See Deut xvii. 1—8. Levjt. xvii. 2—8. 



66 



even before the Mosaic ritual was set up, the patriarch 
Job, who is generally supposed to have been contemporary 
with Abraham, declares it to be " an iniquity to be punished 
by the judge.'"* The breach of the third commandment is 
frequently declared to come under the punitive power of 
the civil authority ; \ and the fourth commandment con- 
tains a requirement that directly refers the cognizance of 
Sabbath profanation to the Civil Magistrate — " no?' the 
stranger that is within thy gates" Who, it may be asked, 
shall prevent the violation of the Sabbath on the part of 
the stranger or sojourner, but he in whom is lodged the 
authority of the state — the Civil Magistrate ?f We have, 
besides, repeated declarations enjoining the sanctification of 



• Job xxxi. 26—28. f See Levit. xxiv. 16, 17. 

I From this it would appear that the moral, as well as the judicial law, made 
express provisionTor the punishment, by the Magistrate, of offences against the 
first table. The admission that the Civil Magistrate should restrain Sabbath- 
breaking, which is made even by such as deny his right to suppress gross heresy 
and idolatry, cuts up by the roots their whole system. By what authority do 
they separate the fourth from the other precepts of the first table, and maintain 
that the Magistrate's coercive power extends to it, while it ought not to be ex- 
tended to them ? Besides, there is not a single reason that can be advanced in 
favour cf the punishment of Sabbath profanation, that may not be pleaded with 
equal, if not greater force for the suppression, by civil pains, of gross heresy and 
idolatry ; nor a solitary objection that can be made against the latter instance of 
magistratical interference, that may not be urged against the former. Men will 
plead co?iscience and private judgment, and raise the outcry of persecution in the 
one case as well as the other ; if the plea is held inadmissible in relation to breaches 
of the fourth commandment, why should it be allowed in reference to gross and 
repeated outward acts of violation of the first or second or third ? To be 
consistent, the opponents of our doctrine should deny that the Clmstian Civil 
Magistrate has any right to punish Sabbath profanation ; they should, on their 
own principles, admit the conscientious objections to Sabbath resting made by 
Jews, Separatists, and others, and at once become the advocates of a passive 
toleration being extended to all who in a Christian land choose to desecrate the 
Lord's day. When they are thus partial in themselves, is there not room to infer 
that they have " become judges of evil thoughts ?" Bad as the age is, the avowal 
that Sabbath profanation should not be authoritatively restrained, would not take 
among a Christian people ; the unbounded toleration of gross and damnable 
heresy and blasphemy is better relished. Let it be well observed, however, that 
the cases are completely parallel ; the suppression of Sabbath-breaking, and the 
punishment of gross heresy, blasphemy, or idolatry, stand or fall together. 



67 



the day of rest, and commanding the violation of it to be 
punished. 

These directions, given by Jehovah to guard the pre- 
cepts of the Decalogue, were carefully followed by the 
pious rulers of Israel, who were approved of God for 
their faithfulness, and on whose administration Divine 
blessings abundantly descended. Asa and Jehoshaphat, 
Hezekiah and Josiah, Ezra and Nehemiah, are com- 
mended for destroying monuments of idolatry, punishing 
the open contemners of God's law, and reforming abuses in 
the worship of the sanctuary. Even Heathen rulers receive 
Divine approbation for similar zeal. Artaxerxes employed 
his authority for punishing the impious contemners of 
God's law; and it is wortliy of remark, that Ezra, endued 
with the Spirit, solemnly blesses God that he had put such 
a thing in the king's heart.* The conduct of these Civil 
Rulers in relation to the Church, and the interests of reli- 
gion generally, is proposed as an object of imitation to 
Christian Magistrates in every nation, and why should their 
conduct in this particular be an exception ? The Divine 
Spirit gives no intimation that here alone the example 
ceases ; and the inference is unavoidable, that in thus guard- 
ing the honour of the Divine law, and punishing such as 
contemned it, they are still models for the imitation of 
Christian Civil Rulers. 

Inspired prophecy assures us that, under the New Testa- 
ment economy, the practice of Christian Magistrates in this 
particular shall correspond to that of their predecessors in 
office under the former dispensation. God promises, in 
declaring the conduct of such rulers as should possess the 
character of his ministers, that under their dominion " the 
sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away ;"f 
and it can be easily shown that the designation, " sons of 
Belial," is applied in Scripture to the worshippers of idols 
as well as to grossly immoral persons. Elsewhere,:): it is pre- 



* Ezra vii. 26. 2J. 



+ 2 Sam. xxiii. 6. 



t Amos ix. 1 !• 



68 



dieted that God will " raise up the tabernacle of David that 
is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof," that he " will 
raise up his ruins, and will build it as in the days of old." 
In ancient times, the Church was raised up by the foster- 
ing care of the Civil Ruler, and its breaches were repaired 
by his commendable zeal in restraining and punishing idol- 
aters and false prophets, and in reforming religion when it 
had been corrupted. The prophecy contains the assurance, 
that in the days of the Messiah the same means will be 
employed, and be crowne^ with abundant success. One 
other passage is more explicit still on this subject. In 
Zechariah xiii. 3, there is an express prediction declaring 
the duty of punishing, with civil pains, idolaters and obstinate 
heretical teachers under the dispensation of the Gospel. 
There can be no doubt that the passage refers to New 
Testament times. The " fountain opened," of which the 
prophet speaks in the first verse, is the Mediator's blood, 
shed for the remission of the sins of mu.,;. While it is 
gloriously exhibited under the Gospel as the mer.ns of 
the sinner's pardon and purification, it is foretold that 
idolaters and the false prophets, or heretical teachers, sl.ali 
be so restrained and punished, that they will cease out 
of the land, and be remembered no more. Amid the 
abundant light and privileges that will then prevail, 
should any still rebel against God, and speak lies in his 
name, it is predicted that he shall be subjected to pun- 
ishment. " And it shall come to pass, that when any 
shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that 
begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live ; for 
thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord ; and his father 
and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through 
when he prophesieth." Let it not be pleaded from this, or 
from the other instances, that we advocate the punishment 
of heresy or idolatry by capital punishments. The sentence 
of Jehovah's law declares that they who do such things are 
worthy of punishment, and the moral principle on which 
this decision is founded, must, in every condition of the 
Church on earth, remain immutable. We have already 



69 



disclaimed the exercise of magistratical power in order to 
force men to profess even the fundamental truths of religion, 
or to practice any religious duty ; and we have, in the 
plainest terms, asserted the duty of the Magistrate to em- 
ploy forbearance in all doubtful cases, or where there is 
hope of reformation. Even under the Jewish economy, it 
should appear that, with Divine approbation, the Magistrate 
did not in all cases proceed to extremities in the punish- 
ment of idolatry, &c. Asa only removed Maachah his 
mother from being queen, though she had been chargeable 
with flagrant idolatry,* while, at the same time, he utterly 
destroyed her idol. In the passage which has been just 
quoted, and which, we have seen, refers to the times of the 
Gospel, we have a similar instance of a commutation of 
punishment. The near relatives of the false prophet are 
represented as the instruments of bringing him to the 
Magistrate for punishment, but the " thrusting through " 
cannot denote p....'ng him to death, for, in a subsequent 
part of the passage, (ver, 6.) he is brought in speaking of 
tkc woimds inflicted, as he exhibits the scars of the corporal 
putffehment which he had received. 

The New Testament proceeds on the principle that spe- 
cific directions had been before given relative to the Magis- 
trate's duty on this article, and laws had been promulgated, 
which are never said to be repealed, and which must, there- 
fore, be considered, on all fair construction, of continued 
obligation. It was not necessary to enact, a second time, a 
law which had been already declared. Christ and his 
Apostles came not to abrogate, but to establish the law. 
This were enough to account for the circumstance, that 
there are not found in the New Testament specific direc- 
tions concerning the restraint and punishment of idolatry, 
blasphemy, &c, as in the former part of the revelation of 
mercy. But we are not left altogether to deduce the Ma- 
gistrate's right to restrain and punish breaches of the first 



* 2 Chron. xv. 16. 



70 



table, from established and unalterable principles, clearfy 
propounded in the Old Testament. The New Testa- 
ment does define the Christian Magistrate's province, 
and assigns him the very same power as was exercised 
by the " ministers of God," who presided over the com- 
monwealth of Israel. My text proclaims him to be " a 
terror to evil doers." Who shall venture to affirm, that 
open idolaters, gross heretics, blasphemers, and Sabbath- 
breakers, are not persons of such a character ; and how can 
the Magistrate be a terror to them, if he extends to them and 
their practices unlimited toleration ? It declares him to be 
God's " minister, for good" to the Church, and to the civil 
community. Can he be a public good in a Christian nation, 
if he allows his authority to slumber, while men bring in 
damnable heresies, destroying men's souls, and exposing to 
Divine judgment the nation ? In fine, it assigns to him a 
sword, which he is not to bear in vain, and with which he 
is to execute wrath, as an avenger for God, on him that 
doeth evil. Still the inquiry may be repeated — are not 
gross heretics and idolaters of them that do evil ; and, if so, 
has not the Civil Magistrate a right, guaranteed to him by 
God himself, to employ his authority in restraining them, 
and executing wrath on them, as flagrant transgressors of 
his law ? The same office is ascribed to the Civil Ruler by 
another Apostle of the Lamb — " Submit yourselves unto 
governors sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and 
for the praise of them that do well"* Here Magistrates are 
said to have a special mission for the punishment of evil 
doers ; and it is ever to be remembered, that the sacred 
oracles know no distinction, but uniformly apply the charac- 
ter equally to open violators of the first, as well as the second 
table of the Decalogue. This selection of Scripture passages, 
I feel convinced, my brethren, will amply suffice to array you 
with the armour of righteousness on the right hand and the 
left, to confirm your faith, and encourage your hopes, while 



• 1 Peter ii. 13, 14. 



71 



you oppose gainsayers, and labour to overcome, by the 
blood of the Lamb, and the word of the Saviour's testimony. 
I direct you, 

4. Finally, to the testimonies of the Reformed Churches, 
and to the sentiments of the Reformers and Martyrs, and the 
eminent advocates of the Covenanted Reformation on this 
subject. 

On no subject has there been a more harmonious concur- 
rence of sentiment among the Churches of the Reformation, 
and among eminent Divines, than this. Indeed, after a 
diligent and painful examination of the matter, I am free to 
avow, without hesitation, my belief that the doctrine of 
magistratical interference for the protection of the Church, 
and the suppression of gross violations of the first table, 
was embodied in the creeds of all the Orthodox Reformed 
Churches, maintained by the most distinguished reformers, 
and held especially by the advocates of the Covenanted 
Reformation, from Knox and Melville, down to the re- 
nowned Standard-bearers in our own age, who have 
recently entered into their rest. So general, indeed, was 
the consent of the Church on this topic, that the contrary 
opinions, which have received some countenance in this age 
of boasting liberality, were uniformly pronounced hetero- 
dox,* and referred to sectarians such as Socinians, Ana- 
baptists, &c, and were traced to the ancient heretics the 
Novatians and Donatists. The principle universally con- 
tended for by all the Reformers that wrote on this article, 
was, that the Christian Civil Magistrate is " Custos utrius 
que tabula legis" — keeper of both tables of the law. Clear 



* " Until late times," says an eminent writer, " the primary doctrines, that 
civil authority is applicable to religious matters, the propriety of a National 
Church, and of civil establishments of religion were unanimously admitted ; or 
the opposition to them was confined to some obscure and turbulent sects, or to 
some more bold innovator, dogmatic heretic, or avowed libertine."— M'Crie's 
Statement, p. 13. For a historical sketch of the origin and progress of the opinions 
relative to Magistracy that go to deny the Magistrate's power chva saci-a, see 
Appendix, Note E. 



72 



and decided is the language they employ, and numerous and 
striking are the arguments which they advance in support 
of the doctrine. Here, my brethren, I can only wait to 
present you with a hasty selection of testimonies, premising 
that many others might be advanced, equally cogent and 
explicit with those which are quoted. I begin with the tes- 
timony of the Reformers and Reformed Churches. 

Already have we seen that Wallaeus, and Calvin, and 
Vitringa, in explaining different passages of Scripture, teach 
the right of the Christian Civil Magistrate to foster and 
protect the Church, to establish the true religion, and to 
restrain whatever is opposed to the peace and purity of 
Christ's kingdom. The celebrated Francis Turretin, Pro- 
fessor of Theology in Geneva, expresses himself fully on this 
topic, and, by various arguments, shows the right of the 
Magistrate to punish, with civil pains, gross heretics, idol- 
aters, and blasphemers. In endeavouring to establish this 
point, he lays down the position, that " Magistrates have 
the right to restrain contumacious and obstinate heretics, 
who cannot be cured of their errors, and who disturb the 
peace of the Church, and even to inflict upon them due 
punishment." " Since Magistrates," he adds, for confirma- 
tion, <c are keepers of both tables, and the care of religion 
pertains to them, they ought to provide that it should suffer 
no injury, and should, in wisdom, oppose those who assail 
it, lest the poison insinuate itself more widely, and be dif- 
fused through the whole body. But Magistrates cannot 
protect religion, unless they restrain the obstinate and fac- 
tious contemners thereof. Such interference, both the glory 
of God, of which they are the defenders, and the safety of 
the commonwealth, of which they are the guardians, de- 
mand. If less evils are restrained, by heavy penalties, this, 
which is the greatest, which injures the truth of God, which 
blasphemes his name, which rends the Church, which cor- 
rupts the faith, and brings into danger the safety of the 
faithful, should not be permitted to go unpunished. Rather 
is there frequently required, that a speedy and powerful 
remedy be applied ; inasmuch, as from this quarter the de- 



73 



struction of the whole body is threatened, unless the appli- 
cation be quickly made. 

" For this purpose, the laws of Moses against apostates, 
blasphemers, false prophets, &c. were given, as in Deut. 
xiii. 5, and xvii. 12 — Levit. xxiv. 16. With the same de- 
sign, there are set before us, the examples of Moses, and of 
pious kings, in the Old Testament, who reformed religion, 
and restrained false prophets, heretics, and idolaters, and 
never hesitated, moreover, to inflict upon them various civil 
punishments ; and also the examples of Christian princes in 
New Testament times, who passed several laws against 
heretics, and visited them not only with imprisonment and 
exile, but coerced them likewise with severer punishments." 
Again, he asserts, that " the Magistrate can restrain here- 
tics, and punish them, and according to the nature of their 
crime — if, for instance, they are blasphemers, and factious, 
and seditious, he may inflict on them capital punishment." 
And, afterwards, he advocates the application of capital 
punishments in such extreme cases, from, 1. The atrocity 
of the crime ; and, 2. The authority of God, declared in 
his law.* 

The Confessions of the Reformed Churches expressly 
assign to the Christian Civil Magistrate this coercive and 
punitive power in matters of religion. The first Confession 
of Helvetia declares, " Seeing that every Magistrate is of 
God, his chief "duty , except it please him to exercise tyranny, 
consisteth in this — to defend religion from all blasphemy, to 



* See Turret. De Polit. Ecc. Gubern. Qurest. xxxiv. In giving this, or any 
subsequent quotation, I am not to be understood as entirely concurring with 
these celebrated writers in every view which they have advanced. I am dis- 
posed to think that, in some instances, they went too far in specifying the 
application of the doctrine. The kind of restraint and punishment, we al- 
lege, should be left to be determined by the Christian wisdom of the Magistrate, 
and by the circumstances of the case. In a nation, professing and establishing 
the true religion, it would be a question for the judges ; but the principle, that it 
is the Christian Magistrate's duty to restrain and punish obstinate heretics and 
idolaters, is ever to be maintained apart from all consideration of its particular 
applications. I agree fully with the authorities quoted, in maintaining the prin- 
ciple, however I may differ with them in some minute points of the application. 



74 



promote it ; and, as the prophet teacheth, out of the Word 
of the Lord, to see it put in practice, as far as lies in him." 
The latter Confession of Helvetia, which was expressly ap- 
proved by the Church of Scotland, and other Reformed 
Churches, teaches, that " Magistracy, of whatever sort it be, 
is ordained of God himself, for the peace and tranquillity of 
mankind ; so that the Magistracy ought to have the chief 
place in the world. If he be an adversary to the Church, 
he may greatly hinder and disturb it; but if he be a friend 
and member of the Church, he is a most profitable member, 
and may excellently aid and advance it. His principal duty 
is to procure and maintain peace and public tranquillity ; 
which, doubtless, he will never do more happily than when 
he is seasoned with the fear of God and true religion, par- 
ticularly when he shall, after the example of the most holy 
kings and princes of the people of the Lord, advance the 
preaching of the truth, and the pure unadulterated faith, 
shall extirpate falsehood, and all superstition, impiety, and 
idolatry^ and shall defend the Church of God s for, indeed, 
we teach, that the care of religion doth chiefly appertain to 
the holy Magistrate." The Confession of Saxony declares, 
that " the Word of God doth, in general, teach this con- 
cerning the power of the Magistrate ; first, that God wills 
that the Magistrates, without all doubt, should sound forth 
the voice of the moral law among men, according to the 
ten commandments, or law natural, by laws forbidding idol- 
atry and blasphemies, as well as murders, theft, &c. For 
well has it been said of old — the Magistrate is a keeper of 
the law, i. e. of the first and second table, as concerning 
discipline and good order. This ought to be their special 
care (of kingdoms and their rulers) to hear and embrace the 
true doctrine of the Son of God, and to cherish the Churches, 
according to Psal. ii. and xxiv. and Isaiah xlix. — And 
fci?igs and queens shall be thy nurses, i. e. let commonwealths 
be nurses of the Church ; let them give entertainment to 
the Church, and to godly studies." The Dutch Confession 
teaches, that God " hath armed the Magistrate with a sword, 
to punish the bad, and defend the good. Furthermore, 



75 



it is their duty to be careful not only to preserve the 
civil polity, but also to endeavour that the ministry be pre- 
served ; that all idolatry and counterfeit 'worship be abolished; 
the kingdom of Antichrist brought down ; and that the 
kingdom of Christ be enlarged ; in fine, that it is their duty 
to bring it to pass, that the holy word of the gospel be 
preached everywhere, that all men may serve God, purely 
and freely, according to the prescribed will of his word." 
And the French Confession declares, P that God hath de- 
livered the sword into the Magistrate's hand, that so sins 
committed against both tables of God's law, not only against 
the second, but the first also, may be suppressed."* Thus 
clearly testify the Doctrinal Standards of the purest Re- 
formed Churches of the Continent, on the Magistrate's 
duty to establish and foster true religion, and to restrain 
and punish heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry. 

Let us hear the still more full and explicit testimonies of 
the most eminent advocates of the Covenanted Reformation, 
and of the authorized documents that declare its fundamental 
principles, from its commencement till the present day. 

Thus speaks Knox, the apostle of the Reformation in 
Britain — " Whatsoever God required of the Civil Magis- 
trate in Israel and Judah, concerning the observation of 
true religion, during the time of the law, the same doth he 
require of lawful Magistrates, professing Christ Jesus, in 
the time of the Gospel." Afterwards he adds, in reply to 
the objection, that 4 the Apostles did not punish the idola- 
trous Gentiles,' — ¥ If Christ be not come to dissolve but to 
fulfil the law of his heavenly Father, shall the liberty of his 
Gospel be an occasion that the special glory of his Father 
be trodden under foot, and regarded of no man ? God 
forbid ; and therefore I fear not to affirm, that the Gentiles 
be bound by the same covenant that God made with his 
people Israel, in these words, 6 Beware that thou make not 
any covenant with the inhabitants of the land, but thou shall 



* See Confessions, quoted in M'Crie's Statement, p. 86, 87, 88 ; and the Divine 
Right of Church Government by Presbyterian Ministers in London, p. 67, 70. 



76 



destroy their altars,' &c. When, therefore, the Lord put- 
teth the sword in the hand of a people, they are no less 
bound to purge their cities and countries from idolatry, 
than were the Israelites what time they received the posses- 
sion of the land of Canaan."* In the Confession of the 
English Congregation of Geneva, which was used in Scot- 
land before the establishment of the Reformation, it is said, 
"As Moses, Ezechias, Josias, and other godly rulers, 
purged the Church of God from superstition and idolatry, 
so the defence of Christ's Church appertaineth to the 
Christian Magistrates, against all idolaters and heretics, as 
Papists, Anabaptists, w T ith such like limmes of Antichrist.'^ 
The Scots Confession, (which was the Confession of the 
Reformed Church of Scotland, and was in use till the time 
of the Westminster Assembly,) teaches — " Mairover, to 
kings, princes, rulers and magistrates, wee affirme, that 
chieflie and most principallie the conservation and purgation 
of the religioun apperteinis ; so that not onlie they are 
appointed for civill policie, but also for maintenance of the 
trew religion, and for suppressing of idolatrie and supersti- 
tioun whatsoever ; as in David, Josaphat, Ezechias, Josias 
and utheris highlie commended for their zeale in that caise, 
may be espied.":}: The Second Book of Discipline declares, 
that M chiefly Christian princes and other magistrates are 
holden to advance, as far as lieth in their power, the king- 
dom of Jesus Christ. For they are called in the Scriptures 
nonrishers of the kirk, for so much as by them it is, or at 
least ought to be maintained, fostered, upholden, and de- 
fended against all that would procure the hurt thereof. So 
it pertains to the office of a Christian Magistrate — to make 
laws and constitutions agreeable to God's word, for advance- 
ment of the kirk, and policy thereof, without usurping any 
thing that pertains not to the civil sword, but belongs to 
the offices that are merely ecclesiastical, as is the ministry 



• Knox, quoted in the Hind Let Loose, p. 22. 
+ Quoted by M'Crie, Statement, p. 89. % Scots Confession, c. xxiv. 



77 



of the word and sacraments, using of ecclesiastical discip- 
line, and the spiritual execution thereof, or any part of the 
power of the spiritual keys, which our Master gave to the 
Apostles and their true successors." Again — " The Magis- 
trates neither ought to preach, minister the sacraments, or 
execute the censures of the kirk, nor yet prescribe any rule 
how it should be done ; but command the ministers to ob- 
serve the rule commanded in the word, and punish the 
transgressors by civil means."* 

The Westminster Confession of Faith is very full and ex- 
plicit on this subject. In chap, xx., art. 3 and 4, it is 
declared, " They who, upon pretence of Christian liberty, 
do practise any sin, or cherish any lust, do thereby destroy 
the end of Christian liberty ; which is, that, being delivered 
out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord 
without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all 
the days of our life. 

" And because the powers which God hath ordained, 
and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not in- 
tended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and 
preserve one another, they who, upon pretence of Christian 
liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exer- 
cise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the 
ordinance of God. And for their publishing of such opin- 
ions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to 
the light of nature, or to the known principles of Chris- 



* Second Book of Discipline, c. x. Ib. c. i. sect. 14. The Second Book of 
Discipline was sanctioned by a free General Assembly in the reforming period, and 
is, in consequence, to be regarded as an authoritative standard by the adherents 
of the Covenanted Reformation. The First Book of Discipline, compiled by 
Knox and others, is in accordance with all the other testimonies of the Reformers 
on this subject. 41 We require," say the compilers, " Christ Jesus to be truly 
preached, and his holy sacraments rightly ministered ; so we cannot cease to re- 
quire idolatry, with all monuments and places of the same to be suppressed 

in all bounds and places of this realm ; for, let your honours be persuaded, that 
where idolatry is maintained or permitted, when it may be suppressed, that there 
shall God's wrath reign, not only upon the blind and obstinate idolaters, but also 
the negligent sufferers of the same, especially if God hath armed their hands with 
power to suppress such abomination." — (First Book of Discip. c. iii. sect. 1, 2.) 



78 



tianity, whether concerning faith, worship or conversation ; 
or to the power of godliness ; or such erroneous opinions or 
practices as, either in their own nature, or in the manner of 
publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the ex- 
ternal peace and order which Christ hath established in 
the Church ; they may be lawfully called to account, and 
proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by 
the power of the Civil Magistrate." Again, in c. xxiii., it 
is asserted that Magistrates " ought especially to maintain 
piety s" and their duty in protecting true religion, and sup- 
pressing heresy and blasphemy, is thus clearly declared — 
" The Civil Magistrate may not assume to himself the 
administration of the word and sacraments, or the power of 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven ; yet he hath authority, 
and it is his duty to take order, that unity and peace be 
preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept 
pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be sup- 
pressed, all abuses in worship and discipline prevented and 
reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, ad- 
ministered and observed." 

To the same effect, in the Larger Catechism, Quest. 108, 
the duties required in the second commandment are declared 
to be, <fi the detesting, disapproving, opposing, all false wor- 
ship, and, according to each one's place and callings removing 
it and all monuments of idolatry" 

In the National Covenant, persons, according to their 
stations, and by the means competent thereto, are held 
bound to " defend the true religion, and resist all con- 
trary errors and corruptions, according to their vocation, 
and to the uttermost of that power that God hath put into 
their hands, all the days of their life."* In the Solemn 



• In the National Covenant it is further declared, that the design of the bond 
8, that " Papistry and superstition may be utterly suppressed ;" and Magistrates 
expressly swear, that they u shall abolish and gainstand all false religion, con- 
trary" to the true religion of Christ Jesus, and " t/iat they shall be careful to root 
out of their empire all heretics, and enemies to the true worship of God> 
who shall be convicted by the true kirk of God of the foresaid crimes." It is woi - 



79 



League and Covenant, the application of civil pains for the 
restraint and punishment of open and contumacious abettors 
of error, and disturbers of the Church's peace or order, is 
an article of the engagement. The persons entering into 
the League solemnly engage, for themselves and posterity, 
that they shall, in their several places and callings, " with- 
out respect of persons, endeavour the extirpation of Popery, 
prelacy, superstition, heresy, schism, profaneness, and what- 
soever shall be found to be contrary to sound doctrine, and 
the power of godliness."* 

The Acts of the General Assemblyf of the Church 
of Scotland, that adopted and sanctioned the Westmin- 
ster Standards, repeatedly declare the Christian Magis- 
trate's duty, and assign to him a coercive and puni- 
tive power for the suppression of heresy, blasphemy, and 
idolatry. Thus in the Act, Aug. 1647, entitled, " Declar- 
ation and Brotherly Exhortation to the Brethren in Eng- 
land," the Assembly declares, " We are sensible of the 
great and imminent dangers into which this common cause 



thy of remark, that in both the National Covenant, and the Solemn League and 
Covenant, the engagement to extirpate heresy, profaneness, and false worship, is 
entered into by persons, " according to their vocation" and " in their several places 
and callings. " Do not these expressions, which repeatedly occur, most obviously 
imply, that private Christians, by prayer and argument, Ministers, by the word, 
and ecclesiastical censures, and Magistrates, by their official authority, which, in 
figurative language, is termed " the power of the sword," are severally to labour 
for the suppression of all error and false worship ? Who does not know that Ma- 
gistrates, supreme and subordinate in these lands, once willingly covenanted with 
God for this purpose ? What genuine friend of the Covenanted Reformation 
does not regard these vows obligatory on the Magistracy that now exists, even 
though their obligation is not confessed ? Magistrates engage in the National 
Covenant, " to the uttermost of their power" to defend the true religion, and to 
resist "all contrary errors and corruptions." How will this comport with the 
principle, that they should extend an indiscriminate toleration to all, and employ 
only reason and argument to restrain the openly heretical and profane ? Is this 
acting as Ministers of God, according to the uttermost of their power ? 
* Solemn League and Covenant, Art 2. 

t Adherence to the Acts of Assembly, from 1638 to 1649, forms a part of the 
solemn vow of every Minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, at his ordi- 
nation to the office to the Ministry. 



80 



of religion is brought by spreading of most dangerous errors 

and that which is called, by abuse of the word, 

liberty of conscience, being indeed liberty of error, scandal, 
schism, heresy, dishonouring to God. So it cannot be 
denied, that upon these passages and proceedings, hath 
followed the interruption of the so much longed for refor- 
mation of religion, of the settling of Presbyterian Church 
Government, and of the suppressing of heresies and danger- 
ous errors" In the Act of Sept. 1, 1647, concerning the 
CXI Propositions, they say in the eighth general head, 
" That notwithstanding hereof, the Civil Magistrate may 
and ought to suppress, by corporal or civil punishments, such 
as by spreading error or heresy, or by fomenting schism 
greatly dishonour God, dangerously hurt religion, and dis- 
turb the peace of the kirk ;" this opinion they declare to be 
" solid, true, orthodox, grounded on the word of God," and 
agreeable to the sentiments of the " best reformed kirks." 

The principle thus prominently embodied in the doc- 
trinal standards of the Reformed Church of Scotland, 
formed an article in the grounds of suffering of the martyrs 
of the subsequent period. 

In the " Informatory Vindication" which was prepared by 
the illustrious James Renwick,* the last minister who suffered 
unto death in the persecuting period, and was designed to 
state the grounds of the testimony and sufferings of the 
faithful adherents of the covenanted cause, the doctrine of 
magistratical interference for suppressing false religion, is 
expressly stated. This truth, as well as others recorded in 
this document, Renwick afterwards sealed with his blood. 
The persecuted Covenanters of that period declare — <c We 
own he may, and ought to preserve both tables of the law, 
and punish by corporal and temporal punishment, whether 
church officers or members, such as openly dishonour God by 
gross offences, either against the first or second table; but 



* Alexander Shields, the author of the " Hind Let Loose" co-operated with 
Mr. Renwick in drawing up this admirahle document. 



81 



this he may not do every way, but after his own manner, 
not intrinsically but extrinsical ly, not under the considera- 
tion of a scandal but of a crime." " In sum, we grant this 
to be the full extent of the Magistrate's supremacy in the 
Church affairs, to order whatsoever is commanded by the 
God of heaven, that it be diligently done for the house of 
the God of heaven. And what further he may usurp, we 
disown and detest."* At the same period, the Societies, as 
they were called, who waited on Renwick's ministry, and 
who alone, amid numerous aggravated privations, main- 
tained steadfast adherence to the entire principles of the 
Reformation, declare their belief in the doctrine which we 
advocate.f Twenty- four years after the martyrdom of Ren- 
wick, the scattered adherents of the covenanted cause assem- 
bled, in 1712, at Auchinsaugh^X near Douglas, in Lanarkshire, 
and publickly, and with much solemnity, renewed the British 
Covenants, from which others had made defection. The 
transaction embraced a public avowal of all the glorious 
principles which their forefathers had sealed with their 
blood ; — the document which records it, leaves the matter 
beyond dispute, that the Covenanters of that day held the 



* Informatory Vindication, p. 174, 175. 

t Faithful Contendings — Letter to Friends in Ireland, 1688, p. 301. 

% Auchinsaugh Renovation, p. 56, 60, 64. u In the Acknowledgment of Sins, the 
persons who engaged in the Renovation of the Covenants on that memorable oc- 
casion, lament the boundless passive toleration shown to Popish idolaters and 
sectaries of different names ; and they expressly declare the Civil Magistrate's 
not punishing grievous idolaters and heretics to be a contravention of the Cove- 
nants, which are of perpetual binding obligation on the inhabitants of these lands. 
Thus they speak — " And not only then, but even to this day, there is too much 
conniving at Papists ; the laws are not put in execution against them in their full 
extent and latitude : and albeit this land, yea whole Britain and Ireland, were 
purged of Popery, yet cannot we be said to have made conscience of performing 
this part of the oath of God, while there is a confederating with Papists abroad, 
and fighting in their quarrel, and that whilst in the mean time they are persecute 
ing, with the height of rigour and severity, all such as profess anything of the 
reformed religion in their dominions." The published document which records 
the transaction at Auchinsaugh, contains in other places much to the same effect 



82 



principle, that the Civil Magistrate in a Christian land was 
bound to protect the true religion, and to restrain and 
punish openly wicked heretics, blasphemers, and idolaters. 

Nearly half a century afterwards, when the Reformed 
Presbytery emitted the " Judicial Act, Declaration, and 
Testimony" which was designed to exhibit all the former 
attainments of the witnesses for the truth in Britain, 
and to complete the subordinate and explanatory stand- 
ards of the Church, there is evidence not to be gain- 
sayed that the duty of the Civil Magistrate to foster 
religion, and suppress error, was maintained as firmly as at 
any former period. " Inasmuch," asserts the Act and 
Testimony, " as conscience is the rule ruled, not the rule 
ruling, none can, without manifest sin, upon pretence of 
conscience or Christian liberty, cherish any forbidden lust 
in their souls, nor are they left at freedom to reject any of 
the Divine ordinances instituted in the word, nor to change 
or corrupt their Scriptural institution, by mixing human 
inventions therewith, or in the least deviating from the 
purity thereof. And, therefore, that all who vent or main- 
tain tenets or opinions contrary to the established principles 
of Christianity, whether in the matter of doctrine, divine 
worship, or practice of life, which are contrary to, and in- 
consistent with the analogy of faith, and the power of true 
godliness, or destructive of that pure peace and good order 
established by Christ in his Church, are accountable unto 
the Church ; and, upon proper conviction, ought to be pro- 
ceeded against, by inflicting ecclesiastical censures, or civil 
pains, in a way agreeable to the Divine determination, in 
the word concerning such offences." Again, " In like man - 
ner, they assert and maintain, that God Almighty, the So- 
vereign Lord of all things, and the special protector and 
preserver of his professed subjects in this lower world, hath, 
for his own glory and the public good, authorized and in- 
stituted in his Word the office and ordinance of civil go- 
vernment and governors, for the preservation of external 
peace and concord, administration of justice, defence and 



83 



encouragement of such as are, and do good, and the pun- 
ishment of evil doers, who transgress either table of the moral 
law for all which ends, subordinate unto that of his own 
glory, God, the alone fountain of all power, hath instituted 
and appointed this ordinance." And, further, it is said, 
" which power (i. e. their official) Magistrates are especially 
to exert for the outward defence of the Church of God, 
against all her external enemies, restraining, or otherwise 
punishing, as the case may require, all open blasphemers, 
idolaters, false worshippers, obstinate heretics, with all avowed 
contemners of the worship and discipline of the house of God, 
and, by his civil sanction, to corroborate all the laws and 
ordinances of Christ's house, providing and enjoining that 
every thing in the house of the God of heaven be done ac- 
cording to the Jaw of the God of heaven."* To show that, 
as a Church, the religious body which adopted this as their 
testimony, has never departed therefrom on the article of 
the Magistrate's right to punish breaches of the first table 
of the Divine law, the declaration of a still later authorized 
publication may be adduced. " They consider it also to be 
the Magistrate's province," says the Reformed Church in 
Scotland, by her representatives, " formally and openly to 
declare his approbation of the Church's righteous decisions, 
and his resolution to employ the authority and influence 
attaching unto his exalted station, for carrying these into 
effect. We are likewise of opinion, that the Magistrate 
may warrantable punish gross outward acts of vice and im- 
morality in general, whether they be transgressions of the 

FIRST OR OF THE SECOND TABLE OF THE MORAL LAW."f 

From this ample collection of testimonies^ it will be ap- 
parent to you, my brethren, that in pleading the right of 
the Christian Civil Magistrate to interpose his authority 



* Act and Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, p. 160, 163, 164. 
t Explanation and Defence of Terms of Communion, p. 22. Third Edition 
Glasgow, 1824. 

+ For other authorities on this article, see Appendix, note F. 



84 



for the restraint and punishment of gross breakers of God's 
law, 1 advance no novel opinion — I teach you no new doc- 
trine. The truth for which I contend has been sealed by 
the blood of the martyrs of the Lamb — it is embodied in 
the ecclesiastical formulas of the purest Reformed Churches; 
and your fathers, through successive generations, main- 
tained it, amid the obloquy and reproach of a world lying 
in wickedness. Encompassed by so great a cloud of wit- 
nesses, I invite you to hold fast your profession without 
wavering. 

As another object of Christian Magistracy, I mention, 
Lastly, The universal subjection of the nations to the yoke 
of Messiah. 

Long have the nations withheld their allegiance from 
their rightful Sovereign, and their princes and judges 
have rebelled against him. The god of this world has 
usurped the dominion of a large portion of the world's 
population. " Spiritual wickedness" has taken possession 
of the high places, and the principalities and powers of the 
earth continue in rebellion against the Lord's anointed. 
Magistrates, supreme and subordinate, even in lands 
nominally Christian, have refused to kiss the Son. Then- 
seats of office are established on the Antichristian foun- 
dation. The governments which they administer are radi- 
cally immoral and Antiscriptural, impiously contemning 
the law of the Lord, and exalting human expediency, " the 
wisdom of the world that cometh to nought," to the throne 
of the Ruler of the nations. The civil authorities themselves 
give their power to the Beast. The opposition of the rulers 
of the earth, however, cannot hinder or delay the accom- 
plishment of the design of everlasting love, in the subjuga- 
tion of the nations to the sceptre of Messiah. The means 
whereby this glorious design shall be fulfilled, are plainly 
declared in the volume of inspiration. Among these, 
not the least important is the homage which the Civil 
Magistrate shall yield to the Saviour, by employing his 
extensive power and influence for the establishment of 



85 



his kingdom. Nations are bound to submit to Christ 
the Mediator as their rightful sovereign, and having 
pledged their allegiance to him by a national deed, they are 
thenceforth called to the high and honourable work of 
making known his light and saving health, and of leading 
other nations into submission to his yoke. Abundantly 
should the Christian Magistrate rejoice to be thus a co- 
worker with God. Sublime and interesting would be the 
spectacle of a state, first subordinating all its concerns to 
the Redeemer's glory, and then calling into requisition all 
its resources for obtaining a ready submission to Christ the 
Lord by every surrounding nation. How exalted the 
character of a Christian Ruler while thus occupied ! 
Clothed with the symbols of authority as Heaven's vicege- 
rent he stands pre-eminent among his fellows, while he 
follows the train and speeds on the conquest of Him whose 
vesture is " dipped in blood." And then does he truly be- 
come a public blessing, when he regulates all the affairs of the 
state, and directs its moral energies, so that the nations of the 
earth may be universally brought to serve the Lord, and to 
dread his glory. The blessed effects resulting from such a 
dedication, are matter of distinct prophetical announcement. 
They form the subject of the believer's prayers, and the de- 
lightful antieipations of the faithful witnesses of the Lamb. 
When the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the 
kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to " the peo- 
ple of the saints of the Most High," then it is predicted, "all 
dominions shall serve and obey him"* Soon as the Gen- 
tiles shall come to Zion's light, and kings to the brightness 
of her rising, Antichristian darkness will flee away. The 
thrones of the nations shall be purged — the enemies of 
Christ and his cause shall experience their final overthrow 
— and the joy-inspiring declarations of Divine faithfulness 
will receive their amplest fulfilment — " He shall have 
dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the 



* Dan. vii. 27. 



86 



ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall 
bow down before him ; and his enemies shall lick the dust ; 
yea, all kings shall bow down before him ; all nations shall 
serve him. ,,# The proclamation resounds through the wide 
concave of heaven — " Babylon the Great is fallen," — " The 
kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our 
Lord and of his Christ ; and he shall reign for ever and 
ever — and the shout of delighted triumph ascends from 
the innumerable happy subjects of the everlasting King — 
" Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth." 
To hasten such a blissful consummation, you should daily 
pray — extolling the Saviour as Head of all principality and 
power, and claiming from Magistrates unreserved submis- 
sion to his authority, and devoted exertions for the advance- 
ment of his glory. I direct you finally to consider, 

IV. The means by which these objects may be attained. 

Already have I in part anticipated the observations 
which I had intended to make on this division of the sub- 
ject, and therefore will the discussion of it be conducted 
with all brevity. Among the chief means whereby the 
Christian Magistrate may promote the Divine glory, and 
secure the universal good of the nation, may be mentioned 
his example — his official power and irfluence — the encourage- 
ment of the pious and the virtuous — devising and executing 
"wholesome laws — and frequent and fervent prayers for a bless- 
ing upon his administration. 

1. His own example. 

The conduct of the Magistrate, occupying, as he does, 
an elevated station in society, is productive of benefit or in- 
jury proportionate to the height to which he is raised. 
Therefore should he have his hand first in every good 
work, and from the seat of authority which he fills should 
his example shine forth conspicuously, shedding an at- 
tractive lustre upon the whole community. In all the 



• Ps. bocii. 8, 9, 11. 



87 



instances of good rulers recorded in Scripture, the Ma- 
gistrate's example had the most benign and salutary 
effect in promoting piety, and, as the happy consequence, 
establishing good order and virtue and prosperity. How 
mightily grew the word of God and prevailed in the days 
of our fathers, when the Lords of the Congregation encour- 
aged the people to zeal and steadfastness in maintaining 
the truth ; and how greatly did piety flourish, even in the 
troublous times of the Westminster Assembly, when the 
halls of legislation were filled by men fearing God, and 
setting an example of devotedness to his cause ! Such 
should still be the Christian Magistrate's conduct. Instead 
of spreading, by his example, as too many magistrates are 
now doing, a malignant and blighting influence around him 
— instead of profaning the Sabbath of the Lord by transact- 
ing upon it the business of the state — instead of giving 
countenance to error or immorality, by his neglect of reli- 
gion and by disorderly living, let him carry religion with him 
into every department of his official duties, and encourage, 
by his own example, the practice of godliness : — thus will 
he promote the great objects of the Christian Magistracy — 
and peace and piety, righteousness and prosperity, will 
flourish under his administration. 
2. His official power and influence. 

The Magistrate has more than the force of example, 
however excellent, to accomplish the objects contemplated 
by his office. Argument, advice, and example, are means 
competent to private Christians for advancing the Divine 
glory, and counteracting the influence of error. Au- 
thority and adequate power, to enforce submission, are es- 
sential to official responsibility. When, therefore, we plead 
for the right of interference by the Christian Magistrate on 
behalf of religion, and for the repression of offences against 
the Divine law, it is necessarily supposed that his authority 
and influence are to be employed for these purposes. In the 
hands of the rightful civil ruler is lodged the national sove- 
reignty, and with the deposit there are committed to him 
suitable means by which his authority may be supported, 



88 



and his righteous decisions carried into effect The trust, 
besides, implies the execution of vengeance on occasions 
when lawful authority is contemned, and contumacious op- 
position is manifested. Deprived of such a right, the person 
ceases to occupy an official station, and sinks into the rank 
of a mere citizen of the commonwealth. If it is urged, as 
it has been, that religion is to be protected, and the 
Church's rights vindicated, and error opposed only by 
moral means — by spiritual weapons or rational arguments — 
we object not to the plea as applicable to spiritual persons 
as ministers of the Gospel, or to private Christians. The 
weapons of their warfare are not carnal, but spiritual ; assi- 
duously are they to labour with the two-edged sword of the 
Word, and the power of sanctified reason, to commend the 
truth to every man's conscience as in the sight of the Lord. 
But the Magistrate is possessed of other means to enforce 
submission ; and to confine him to these alone, and to say 
that argument^ advice, and example, are the only instruments 
allowed him for supporting the Church, and suppressing 
heresy and idolatry, is just directly to deny' s the right of the 
Civil Magistrate to do anything, in his official capacity, in fa- 
vour of religion at all. The text represents him armed with a 
sword, and declares that he bears it not in vain. Well do I 
know the cunning craftiness of men lying in wait to deceive, 
and it behoves me to guard you on this point against their 
delusions. When we speak of the Magistrate's sword, we 
mean not the sword of war, but simply his authority and 
the means with which he is furnished to maintain and de- 
fend it. The " sword" is used to express civil authority, just 
as " the keys" is the designation of the authority which is 
ecclesiastical. " The civil power is called the power of the 
sword, and the other (the ecclesiastical) the power of the 
keys"* Let this obvious explanation be held in view, and 
then will it be readily perceived what is intended, when we 
affirm that the Magistrate is bound to employ the sword in 



* Second Book of Discipline, c. i. 



89 

suppressing gross blasphemy and error, and in reforming 
corruptions and abuses in the worship and discipline of the 
Church. The sword intends simply his authority, and surely 
there are many ways of exercising it besides the infliction of 
capital punishments. Is not keeping men from places of 
power in the state regarded in the light of civil penalties ? 
If the Magistrate may not use the sword for this purpose, 
then would it follow, that over a Christian people there may 
be lawfully set up those who blaspheme God, and are the 
enemies of true religion. Unless the Magistrate be de- 
nuded of his authority, and the sword of his office be taken 
away — unless, in direct opposition to the declaration of re- 
vealed truth, it be in his hands for show and not for use, 
and he bear it therefore in vain, his official power and in- 
fluence will be employed in advancing actively the Divine 
glory, promoting Zion's welfare, and restraining and punish- 
ing such as blaspheme God and attempt to withdraw men 
from his service. 

3. The encouragement of the pious and the virtuous. 
The Magistrate who rules in the fear of God, cannot but 
set a high esteem upon men possessed of piety and virtue. 
If he would see piety flourish, and the nation's best in- 
terests promoted, ever should he look for his official ser- 
vants and coadjutors to the ranks of the virtuous and the 
good. Every subordinate situation he should labour to 
have filled with the fearers of the Lord — men themselves 
well-affected to the cause of truth — men whose example will 
have a happy influence upon others. Thus will he find, that, 
as ill the case of Laban, whose house was blessed because of 
Jacob, encouragement to the saints of the Most High God, 
will draw down the blessing of Heaven upon himself and 
the nation. Surrounded by the pious and the virtuous, he 
will appear as " the light of the morning when the sun 
riseth, even a morning without clouds ;" himself, like a cen- 
tral luminary, diffusing light and vital warmth around him, 
and those whom he has called into notice, and exalted to 
power, like so many stars reflecting his radiance, and by 

M 



90 



their influence causing righteousness that exalteth a nation 
to prevail. 

4. Devising and executing wholesome laws. 

Just laws are themselves effective and powerful instru- 
ments for promoting the peace and prosperity, the present 
and future welfare of a community. The Christian Magi- 
strate, by the authority of law, will seek to compass the ob- 
jects of his appointment, and fulfil the responsibility attached 
to his office. The protection he extends to the Chruch must 
be legal protection. No such sanction must he ever give to 
the idolater, or to him who teaches lies in the name of the 
Lord. One eminent advantage the Magistrate, who takes the 
Divine law as the basis of his government, and who thus 
acts as God's minister, possesses over worldly politicians, 
who are guided by mere human prudence or expediency 
in their measures. He has an unerring standard to which 
he can refer — an immutable and solid foundation, on 
which he may build with perfect safety. On this ground 
we plead, that the Christian Civil Magistrate should make 
the Divine law the grand instrument for advancing the in- 
terests of religion, and reaching the other high ends of his 
appointment. Were it required, I might insist farther on 
what has been elsewhere advanced*— that the Judicial law, 
in those parts of it that were not peculiar to the Jewish 
polity, forms the grand directory to the Christian Magis- 
trate in the exercise of that part of his authority that re- 
spects the establishment of true religion, and its defence 
against the inroads of idolatry, blasphemy, and heresy. The 
moral law defines and declares the crime, but says nothing 
of the punishment. The Judicial law is the fence that God 
himself set round the precepts of the Decalogue, which are 
of universal obligation. It is the penal code of heaven — the 
rule by which alone, as far as human society is concerned, 
we can measure the magnitude of the crime committed, 



See above p. 17. 



91 



and the proper award of punishment which it merits. Con- 
sider it entirely abrogated, and then, as far as relates to the 
Civil Magistrate, the sanction of the Decalogue is removed. 
He has a sword still, but he is without directions how he 
may use it. Like a mariner without a compass, he is afloat 
on a sea of uncertainties, ready at every moment to be swal- 
lowed up by the tempestuous billows, or to be dashed to 
pieces on the rocks and quicksands that threaten his de- 
struction. But the Christian Magistrate is not appointed 
God's minister, and left thus without directions in per- 
forming the functions of his arduous office. His duty 
is clearly and minutely declared in the words of Him 
who is without variableness and shadow of turning, and 
whose law, like himself, is unchangeable. With this divine 
instrument in his hand, he has nothing to fear. Let him 
apply it faithfully, and leave the consequences with God. 
Then will his administration be crowned with success, and 
God's glory and man's good will be extensively promoted.* 

Lastly, Frequent and fervent prayers to God for a bless- 
ing upon the measures devised and executed, and for the be- 
stowment of the good promised. 

To nations, not less than to individuals, to persons in office 
equally as to those who act in a private capacity, the com- 
mand and promise are given — "Knock and it shall be opened; 
seek and ye shall find." With the direction to repose un- 
reserved confidence in Jehovah, the promise of support and 
guidance is graciously connected — " In all thy ways ac- 



* The power of laws to advance religion, and banish error and vice, was duly 
appreciated by our renowned forefathers of the reforming period in Britain. To 
them are we indebted for almost all the excellent regulations that yet remain, re- 
specting the observance of the Sabbath, and the correction of blasphemy and no- 
torious infidelity. The remark illustrated above proves the utility and necessity 
of the various Acts of Parliament by which the Reformation was established and 
fenced, many of which are referred to in the National Covenant. These acts ex- 
hibit the civil sanction given to the true reformed religion, and manifest, farther, 
the laudable desire of the reformed ministers, and civil rulers of that day, that 
nothing should be done by the Christian Magistrate, towards advancing truth, 
and eradicating error and false worship, that was not in accordance with the openly 
declared laws of the realm. 



92 



knowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."* Pecu- 
liarly important are these directions to the Magistrate who 
bears the burden of government, and who must frequently 
experience the pressure of the difficulties of his station. 
The " shields that defend the earth" belong to God. With 
Him are counsel and might ; and his it is to bestow on na- 
tions, as on individuals, prosperity, or to visit them with ad- 
versity. The spirit of dependence on God, and of prayer, 
will eminently qualify the Magistrate for the active discharge 
of every official duty. And mightily will the interests of 
Zion be advanced, when, encouraged by the godly example 
of those who bear rule over them, the people shall acknow- 
ledge God in all their ways, and stir themselves up to call 
upon his name. 

It is needless to enlarge on the illustration of this topic. 
The annals of nations concur with the declarations of the 
Divine Word, and uniformly attest that Divine favour and 
prosperity never have been enjoyed by any people who re- 
moved their confidence from God, and sought help in other 
saviours. On the other hand, there is the amplest assur- 
ance, that in seeking God, nations and their rulers will be 
blessed. This is, indeed, one of the mightiest and most 
effective means for compassing the two great ends of the 
Christian Magistracy — God's glory and man's good. Re- 
specting all that the Magistrate can do to effect these objects, 
Jehovah himself declares — " For this will I be inquired of 
by the house of Israel."f The universal display of the 
Divine glory, and the subjection of the nations to Messiah, 
await the ascent of the believing prayers of magistrates and 
people ; and when the volume of their petitions shall have 
covered the mercy-seat above, then the grant of the Heathen 
to the Son will be finally confirmed — " Ask of me, and I 
will give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the 
uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.":): 

It only remains, my brethren, that I should attempt to 



* Prov. iii. 6. 



t Ezekiel xxxvt. 37* 



X Ps. ii. 8. 



93 



remove a few of the objections that are frequently urged 
against the doctrine which I have advocated in this dis- 
course — the right of the Christian Civil Magistrate to 
establish the true religion, and by his authority to restrain 
and punish the noted transgressors of the first table of Je- 
hovah's law. Evidence more than enough has been pro- 
duced, to satisfy every candid inquirer that this is a doctrine 
of Scripture, and a part of the testimony of Christ's faithful 
witnesses in every age. In refuting objections, my design 
is rather to remove the scruples of the weak, and to pre- 
serve them from the influence of deceptive reasonings, than 
to convince gainsayers. 

Objection L — " Christians are now under a milder dis- 
pensation — the laws respecting the restraint and punish- 
ment of heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, were peculiar to 
the Jewish economy — Christ and his Apostles never acted 
according to this principle." 

The change of dispensation makes no change in the 
Divine law, the unalterable rule of faith and practice. 
Whatever was ceremonial was done away in Christ, whatever 
is moral is of perpetual obligation. Of the latter kind most 
evidently are the laws that guard the honour of both tables 
of the Decalogue. The case of our Lord and his Apostles 
is not in point. They were not in the circumstances in which 
they could exercise the power for which we plead. It is in 
a nation professing revealed religion, we have seen that 
magistracy should be regulated according to the Divine 
law, and the Magistrate's power should be employed for 
the protection of religion, and the suppression of error. 
Our Lord was no magistrate. The Apostles of the Lamb 
were neither magistrates, nor placed in a state of society 
such as we have supposed. They were without political 
power or influence, and went forth simply as heralds of the 
Cross, to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom throughout 
the nations. While we contend that they never gave their 
sanction to the evils that existed in the civil order estab- 
lished, they laid down maxims which were designed to 



94 



mould in due time the whole frame of civil society, and 
which might serve as a directory to Christians when they 
should become magistrates, or possess political power. Of 
this our text is sufficient evidence. Whatever may be the 
character of the dispensation, the character of the magis- 
tracy, as exhibited in both Testaments, is precisely the same. 
It was an " ordinance of God" of old. God himself was 
the Supreme Governor of the nation — the Jewish Magis- 
trates were God's deputies — the Divine law was the rule of 
their conduct — the crimes of which they were to take cog- 
nizance were declared to be acts of rebellion against God, 
for whose honour they were to be specially concerned. 
Are not all these embodied in the constitution and objects 
of Christian Magistracy still ? Of course the plea founded 
on a change of dispensation,* is of no avail in settling the 
question. 

Objection 2. — " These principles lead to persecution, 
and would deluge the world in blood." 

Persecution is oppression for righteousness' sake — it con- 
sists in injury done to men in their persons, property, or 
characters, for their steadfast adherence to the Divine com- 
mandments. It cannot consist, therefore, in restraining and 
punishing men for gross violations of the law of Heaven. 
Our fathers, who maintained these principles* suffered per- 
secution, but they never persecuted. It is a most ground- 
less insinuation to say that we would force men to profess 
religion, or to practice holiness. Is there no difference 
between forcing men to a profession, and punishing them 
for publickly insulting and undermining the true religion, 
producing disorders in churches and nations, and drawing 
down upon them the righteous vengeance of God ? Even 
under the former economy, the exercise of the Magistrate's 
care about religion did not deluge the world in blood — if it 



* For a fuller consideration of this, and some other objections, see Appendix* 
Note G. 



95 



did, it had been unworthy of God, The Judicial Laws 
were worthy of their Divine Author; the application of 
them could not, therefore, have been followed by the horri- 
ble consequences alleged in the grand objection to our doc- 
trine. How, then, can these consequences follow upon the 
application of those laws now in their spirit and general 
equity only? Does the objection strike against our doc- 
trine more than against the laws of Heaven? These 
laws should never have been, if their nature and effects 
are such as the objection implies. A Magistrate duly quali- 
fied to rule in a Christian land, will be a man of a merciful 
disposition — he is only a " terror to evil-doers." By no 
proper mode of reasoning, can the right of a Christian 
Magistrate to restrain and punish positive violations of the 
Divine law, be stretched into a precedent for wicked rulers, 
whether in a Heathen or a Christian land, to rule with 
rigour, or to oppress men who profess the truth and walk 
in the way of duty. The argument, that a Christian 
Magistrate should establish the true religion, therefore a 
Heathen or Antichristian Magistrate should establish false 
religion — that a Christian Magistrate should not employ 
force to bring men to profess the truth, therefore he should 
not restrain or punish what is glaringly opposed to and 
manifestly subversive of the truth, is surely too absurd to 
require exposure. 

Objection 3. — " This doctrine violates liberty of con- 
science, and the right of private judgment." 

God is Lord of the conscience — it has no rights which 
are contrary to his law. The same plea might have been 
set up against Magistratical interference of old, and may 
still be equally pleaded against restraining and punishing 
men for Sabbath-breaking, and violations of the second table 
of the law. Men may plead conscience for high treason, 
theft, murder. Should this exempt them from punishment ? 
The plea of conscience, in the case of gross and obstinate 
heresy and idolatry, is an aggravation of the sin — it is the 
evidence that men are given over to a seared conscience, and 
to strong delusions, and their criminality is thereby fearfully 



96 



aggravated in the sight of God.* We interfere not at all 
with private judgment — men may entertain what opinions 
they please. It is the open and pertinacious avowal of er- 
roneous opinions, accompanied with practices dishonouring 
to God, and ruinous to the interests of the Church and the 
nation, that we plead demands retributive vengeance. 

Objection 4. — " God in his Providence permits heretics 
and idolaters to exist, and punishes them not, so should we 
— may not these crimes be so great, that God will reserve 
the punishment of them to himself, and to the future state ?" 

The fact may at once be denied. God is continually 
pouring out judgments upon heathen nations for their idol- 
atry. During the whole period of Antichrist's reign, the 
blasphemy, heresy, and idolatry of that system are bringing 
down manifold vengeance upon the nations that countenance 
it. At its downfall God will pour out on it the vials of his 
fury. God's Providence is not the rule of our conduct, but 
the plain requirements of his law. The same objection 
might be brought, as it has been, against the use of eccle- 
siastical discipline for the expulsion of heretics and unwor- 
thy persons from Church fellowship. Nations, as such, 
exist only in this present life — Magistrates, as their repre- 
sentatives, have a duty, clearly defined in the Divine law, to 
perform in the present state— what God may do in future is 
no rule to them. It is not conjecture, but a positive declara- 
tion in the Word, that is sufficient to prove that God has wholly 
reserved the punishment of obstinate heresy and blasphemy 
for himself in the eternal world. Was not the doctrine of 



• " Know that error and falsehood have no right or title, either from God 
or men, unto any privilege, protection, advantage, liberty, or any good thing you 
are entrusted withal. To dispose that unto a lie, which is the right of, and due 
to truth, is to deal treac/ierously with Him by whom you are employed. Know 
that in things of practice, so of persuasion, that are impious and wicked, either in 
themselves or natural consequences, the plea of conscience is an aggravation of 
the crime. If men's conscience be seared, and themselves given up to a reprobate 
mind to do those things that are not convenient, there is no doubt but they ought 
to suffer such things as are assigned and appointed by God to such practices." — 
Dr. Owen. 



97 



future punishments known and believed under the Jewish 
economy ? A single intimation from Scripture cannot be 
produced in favour of this crude conjecture. 

Objection 5. — " We cannot see these principles reduced 
to practice, and, therefore, it is imprudent and unwise to 
insist on them." 

The same might be declared concerning many other 
truths, the importance of which all acknowledge. God 
commands — " Be ye holy, for I am holy." None are per- 
fectly holy here, neither, indeed, can be ; yet it is the duty 
of every person to press on to perfection. The principle of 
Magistratical interference for the protection of true religion, 
is a precious part of the faith once delivered to the saints, 
and therefore we are bound to contend for it earnestly. It 
has been departed from in some quarters, and hence it comes 
to possess a relative importance, greater than that of some 
other principles, and is properly regarded as a part of the 
present truth. A Scriptural Magistracy is a main article of 
the testimony of Christ's faithful witnesses. It will never 
be reduced to practice if the friends of truth do not exhibit 
and vindicate it — if they do not continually say, by their 
testimonies to kings — " Be wise — kiss the Son, lest he be 
angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled 
but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." 

CONCLUSION. 

The subject which has been discussed, admonishes the 
professed Witnesses of Christ of various important duties, 
which are specially incumbent upon them at the present 
time. It calls to 

1. Steadfastness in maintaining the doctrine of a Scrip- 
tural Magistracy. 

The times in which we live are distinguished for change. 
Nations are convulsed to their centre. The waves of 
agitation affect the external condition, and even the internal 
state of the Church. At such a period, there is no little 
danger of being carried headlong by the popular current — 



98 

of departing from former attainments — and of giving up 
valuable principles amid the distractions that prevail, and 
the obloquy to which adherents to them are exposed. More 
especially is there such danger in relation to the truths 
which we advocate. The doctrines of Messiah's Headship 
over the nations — a Scriptural Magistracy — and the Magis- 
trate's duty to establish and protect the religion of Christ, 
are not popular. They demand too much homage to the 
Saviour, and advance too high the claims of true religion, 
to be relished by infidel Statesmen, or by a people impa- 
tient of the restraints of Jehovah's law. It is not improbable 
that they may yet form a ground of suffering of the wit- 
nesses of the Lamb. But should their abandonment, there- 
fore, in whole or in part, be contemplated for a moment by 
the sincere follower of the Redeemer? On the other hand, 
in times given to change, he should cast his anchor within 
the vail, and endeavour to weather out the storm. By the 
solemn vows of your forefathers, and by your own volun- 
tary engagements, you are pledged to contend earnestly for 
the faith once delivered to the saints. The least departure 
from this faith can be regarded in no other light than cove- 
nant violation. Be warned, brethren, against apostacy, 
from whatever quarter the temptation may arise. Continue 
to maintain faithfully a testimony for the Divine ordinance 
of Civil Government ; contrast it with the enormous abuses 
that have long prevailed ; assert fearlessly Messiah's claim 
to rule the nations ; urge the duty of a Christian people and 
Christian Magistrates to render all their concerns subservi- 
ent to the interests of the Redeemer's Church. " Whereto 
we have already attained^ let us walk by the same rule — let 
us mind the same thing, 9 * Hold fast your profession without 
wavering, for he is faithful who has promised. Lo, the 
assurance of the Father secures in the end a great recom- 
pense of reward. H Be thou faithful unto the death, and I 
will give thee a crown of life." 

2. Christians are instructed in their duties towards such 
rulers as are appointed over them. 

Mutual obligations rest upon Magistrates and people. 



99 

Revelation, which exalts Civil Government to the rank of 
an ordinance of Heaven, and declares the duties of Civil 
Rulers, at the same time teaches most explicitly the duties 
of subjects. If the Christian Magistrate be the " minister 
of God" — a public good to society — a " terror to evil-doers 
and a praise to them that do well," then are the people 
over whom he presides bound by the law of Heaven to 
reverence, obey, and support him. " Put them in mind to 
be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, 
to be ready to every good work."* It is at their peril if they 
withhold any part of this homage from a rightly constituted 
magistracy. " They that resist receive to themselves dam- 
nation." Earnestly should you seek to obtain magistrates 
qualified to bear rule according to the prescriptions of the 
Divine Word. The Lord, in times past, granted them in 
answer to the prayers of his people. Nehemiah was sent to 
build the Lord's house, as the return of the supplications of 
the captives who waited for the restoration of Israel. 
Divine promises warrant the assured hope, that a similar 
blessing will be bestowed upon the Church in like manner in 
the latter day. Let us give the Lord no rest : let his servants 
plead the accomplishment of his promises ; — and the Glorious 
One who hears prayer, will, in due time, restore counsellors 
as at the first, and judges as at the beginning. He will 
pour out his Spirit upon the high places of the earth, and 
the " people of the saints of the Most High shall take the 
kingdom, and possess it*" Should God in his Providence 
order your lot in places where constitutions are framed, and 
men are exalted to office in the state that possess not a 
Scriptural character, you are to submit to the dispensation 
in meekness and patience ; but never are you to countenance 
any immorality, either in rulers, or their systems of govern- 
ment. With the thrones of the Antichristian earth you can 
have no fellowship. Diametrically opposed to Christ and 
his cause, they are marked for vengeance. They make war 



* Tit. iii. 1. 



100 



with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them. To 
the faithful is the command given — Come out from among 
them, and be ye separate — partake not in their sins, that 
ye share not in their plagues. The 1260 prophetical days 
are not expired. The witnesses must yet prophecy in sack- 
cloth and ashes. The true Church must abide in her hiding 
place in the wilderness till the designs of sovereign love be 
accomplished. Faithful to their profession, her members must 
dwell alone, and not be reckoned among the nations. Prayers, 
indeed, they will offer for " kings, and all that are in autho- 
rity" — not the venal prayers of a hireling priesthood, nor 
the prescribed forms of men in power, who defile the sanc- 
tuary, and degrade religion, to minister to their pride or 
their ambition. They will pray for them as men, for thus 
alone, and not as kings, are they subjects of salvation. They 
will seek that the counsels and actions of wicked Magistrates 
may be over-ruled, so that religion may be promoted, and 
the peace and comfort of the Lord's people secured. The 
injunction cannot be misunderstood. We are commanded 
to pray for kings, and all that are in authority, " that we 
may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness, and 
honesty."* The peace and prosperity of the Church, the 
safety of her members, and their increase in godliness, must 
always be materially affected by the state of the nations 
in which she has the place of her habitation. " The 
king's heart is in the Lord's hand, and he turneth it whither- 
soever he will." The saints should earnestly seek that the 
counsels of the ungodly should be defeated, and the wrath 
of the persecutor so restrained, that the interests of godli- 
ness may prosper, and Zion may be a peaceable habitation. 
And never should they cease to supplicate, that sceptres of 
wickedness may be broken, and the time may speedily come, 
when " righteousness that exalteth a nation" shall univer- 
sally prevail. 

Submission to a rightly constituted Magistracy should 



• 1 Tim. ii. 2. 



101 



be rendered for conscience' sake, and the Lord's sake. It 
is the homage of the heart, given because the Lord of the 
conscience has enjoined it, and because the authority, as a 
Divine ordinance, is entitled to it. The obedience rendered 
to oppressive or unjust rulers, by the subjects of Christ, can 
only be constrained. It may be yielded for wrath's sake, 
as we submit to the arbitrary claims of the lawless robber, 
or the pirate, who has by force reduced us under his power. 
The law of self-preservation renders it allowable, in such 
circumstances, to submit; but who would, for a moment, 
confound such obedience with that which is due to a right- 
ful sovereign ? A blind, indiscriminate submission to rulers, 
of whatever character, is dishonourable alike to those who 
receive, and to those who render it. This is the worship of 
the Beast, by which the nations of Christendom are charac- 
terized during the continuance of the Antichristian apostacy. 
As followers of the Lamb, it is required of you that you 
should never symbolize with such idolatry. Tell Magis- 
trates, that so soon as they shall forsake the gain of oppres- 
sion, and submit themselves to Messiah, you will obey 
them from the heart, as a solemn service rendered to the 
supreme King. Should they continue to rebel against Him, 
bow with submission to the afflictive dispensations of Provi- 
dence, obey his laws, conform to the general order of so- 
ciety, so far as it is in accordance with those laws, and, as 
much as lies in you, cultivate peace with all men ; but 
beware of yielding a conscientious approval to powers estab- 
lished in iniquity, lest ye be found fighting against God, 
and be consumed in the day of his awful displeasure. 

3. Zeal and devotedness in the dissemination of correct 
principles, relative to Christian Magistracy, are required 
from the advocates of truth, 

In an age of unexampled effort, the good soldier of Jesus 
Christ should aim to be in the van in every generous and 
philanthropic enterprise. You must not, however, forget, my 
brethren, as many appear to do, the value and importance 
of a consistent testimony, against all existing evils, and in 
favour of all revealed truths. The principles which I have 



102 



taught you are the fundamental principles of social order, 
eminently fitted to advance the Mediator's glory, and the 
best interests of the Church and the civil community. Did 
I not believe them to be of vital importance, they had never 
become with me a subject of pulpit discussion. Few, perhaps 
none of you, will ever possess political power or influence. 
The duties of the Magistrate relative to the establishment 
of religion, and the restraint of error, belong not, therefore, 
properly to you. Scripture, and reason, prayer, and the 
influence of holy lives, are your appropriate weapons for the 
extirpation of falsehood, and the propagation of truth. 
Employ these with all diligence, and let your lives con- 
stantly present a refutation of the calumny that you are the 
enemies of social order, or that you would, by violent means, 
compel any to the profession of religion, or the performance 
of religious duties. 6S Whatsoever things are true, whatso- 
ever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatso- 
ever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatso- 
ever things are of good report ; if there be any virtue, and 
if there be any praise, think on those things." In general, 
it has been found hitherto, that those who have most stead- 
fastly maintained the testimony of Jesus have not been be- 
hind others — in many instances have excelled them, in all 
the tender charities of life — in ardent attachment to the or- 
dinances of the sanctuary, and in vigorous exertions for the 
evangelization of the world. Such would we have you to 
be. You are " our epistle, seen and read of all men." Live 
so as to M preserve a good conscience ; that whereas they 
speak evil of you, as of evil doers, they may be ashamed 
that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." By 
your profession and calling, you are " the light of the 
world," and the " salt of the earth." Does not this character 
require you to be very zealous for the advancement of the 
truth upon the earth ? Throughout the nations, God is 
breaking up the fallow ground. Even now he is giving the 
forest to the fire and the axe. Take the seed of the Re- 
formation corn, and scatter it in the field prepared for the 
labours of the husbandman. Your success in the end is 



103 



certain. For a time you may bear precious seed, going 
forth weeping ; but the promise of the Eternal assures 
you, that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. 
Doubtless, you shall return, bringing back, with joy, plen- 
tiful sheaves. " There shall be an handful of corn in the 
earth, upon the top of the mountains ; the fruit thereof shall 
shake like Lebanon ; and they of the city shall flourish like 
grass of the earth." 

Lastly, The signs of the times, as well as the declarations 
of the Word, encourage the expectation of a certain and 
speedy triumph to the principles which we advocate. 

The things that are shaken are about to be removed. 
The nations that have rebelled against the Lord and his 
Anointed must be punished with overwhelming judgments. 
Even now the harvest of the earth is ripe, and the Son of 
Man who sits on the cloud, and who wears a golden crown, 
goes forth to thrust in his sharp sickle and reap the harvest. 
Princes that have refused the Saviour homage, must abide 
the wrath of the Lamb — thrones dyed with the blood of the 
saints shall be overthrown. Great Babylon has come into 
remembrance, and all that have partaken in her abomina- 
tions are doomed to share in her plagues. The revo- 
lutionary principle is at work every where. Ancient 
dynasties are tottering to their fall. Already the storm 
of Divine Judgments begins to beat on the kingdom of 
the Beast. Its fierceness and desolation will be felt more 
or less in every country where Messiah has not been ac- 
knowledged as Supreme Lord, and his law has not been 
taken as the basis of civil rule. Fearful is the day of re- 
compense for the wrongs of Zion. When the harvest of 
the earth is fully come, men's hearts shall fail them for 
fear; and the princes and mighty men shall flee to the 
rocks to hide them, and to the mountains to cover them 
from the wrath of the Lamb — " Who may abide the day of 
his coming ?" Tremendous though the judgments be that 
are preparing for the Antichristian earth, and awful as will 
be the destruction of thrones of iniquity, the daughters of 
Judah have reason to rejoice. The day of vengeance is the 



104. 

i 

year of the Lord's redeemed. Already the testimony of 
the Witnesses begins to be better understood. Clouds that 
had long rested upon the principles and conduct of the 
martyrs, have been vanishing away. Dreadful as will be 
the tempest yet to come, the King of Zion directs its move- 
ments, and presides over it; the rainbow of the Covenant 
is round about the throne, and in righteousness doth he 
judge and make war. Pregnant as the times are with re- 
volution, their whole aspect indicates the intention of the 
moral Governor of universe to overturn thrones of iniquity, 
and to make a glorious display of his own ordinance of 
civil magistracy, purified from all abuses, and blessing the 
nations with peace and prosperity. Cheering to the Chris- 
tian are the prospects of the future. The Witnesses may be 
slain, and their dead bodies may lie dishonoured in the streets 
of mystical Babylon. But their resurrection is infallibly 
certain. The spirit of life from God shall enter into them. 
In the sight of their enemies, they shall ascend in glory to 
heaven, and thenceforth, during a thousand years, they shall 
possess the seats of power and authority throughout the 
nations. An earthquake divinely commissioned shall shake 
the great city — the metropolis of the Antichristian empire ; 
the remnant shall be affrighted and give glory to God. 
Then the kingdom that cannot be moved shall be perma- 
nently established. The nations shall bring their glory to 
Zion. The Lord cometh in power and majesty to put 
down all opposing authority and rule, and to claim as his 
inheritance all the nations — 66 Even so come, Lord Jesus." 
Amen. 



APPENDIX. 



Note A. — Page 6. 

Sentiments of Eminent Writers on Romans xiii. 1—6. 

The following ingenious observations on this passage, by an acute and caustic 
writer, Murray of Newcastle, in his Lectures upon Revelation, (vol. ii. p. 281,) 
merit special attention — " There is a passage, which has been much improved by 
those that imagine that believers of the Gospel are, by the Apostle, enjoined to 
yield a passive obedience, and that is in Romans xiii. 1. which version reads, 
4 Let every soul be subject to the higher powers,' &c, to the beginning of the 
seventh verse. With all due respect to our translators, and other learned men, 
I will affirm, that this is rather a paraphrase of the translators, than a translation 
of the. text. From the very genius of the Greek language, it is manifest that 
tfiovaiatg VTreps-^ovcriaig do not signify all sorts of authority, but only such 
as protect men in the enjoyment of their just rights and privileges ; and these words 
ought to be read literally, protecting authorities, or excellent autliorities. E^ou- 
<ria } in its first signification, signifies./?^ and lawful power or authority, and can 
never be applied to tyrants and oppressors without abuse : virepe^cj signifies to 
protect, or to be eminent, and is here understood in that sense, as in other Greek 
authors. Homer makes use of this word in this sense, when he describes 
Agamemnon addressing the Greeks, when the Trojans were advancing agains 
them, (Iliad, iv. 1. 249.) — ' Will ye tarry,' says he, ' till the Trojans advance, 
to know whether Jupiter will protect you ?' 0(j>pa iSr}T aiK Vfxiv vntpaxn 
\tipa Kpovi(i)v* This Apostle makes use of this word, (Phil. iv. 7,) to point 
out the excellency of the peace of God. Ktu eiprjvt] tov Oeov i] virepz- 
ypvaa iravra vow, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding 
shall keep your hearts.' This same Apostle, in the second chapter of this 
Epistle, makes use of the same word to signify excellency, or what is more 
excellent, or better; aXXr^Xovg riyovjuevoi v7T£pex 0VTa Gi i t et each 
esteem others better tlutn themselves.' It does not appear from this passage that 
there is any command to be subject to any powers, except such as excel, and 
protect their subjects. But let us read the whole paragraph, without any para- 
phrase in the translation, and see how it will prove non-resistance. 4 Let every 
soul be subordinate to the authorities protecting them ; for it is not authority, if 
wot from God. But these that are authorities under God, are appointed. 



106 



Therefore, he that resisteth the authority resisteth the appointment of God, and 
they that resist, shall receive judgment to themselves. For rulers are not a terror 
of good works, but of evil. Will you not fear authority ? do good, and you shall 
have praise from it ; for he is the servant of God for good. But if you do evil, 
fear, for he beareth not the sword in vain ; for he is the servant of God, a re- 
venger for wrath to him that doeth evil. Therefore, it is necessary to obey, not 
only for wrath, but for conscience sake. For this cause pay you tribute also, for 
they are the servants of God, waiting continually for this very thing. Render 
therefore to all their due, tribute to whom tribute, custom to whom custom, fear 
to whom fear, honour to whom honour.' Can any words make the subject more 
plain, that it is the appointment of God, and the ruler answering the character 
here given him, that lays the obligation upon Christians to obey him ? If the 
people who bring Romans xiii. 1. as a proof of mere passive obedience to all 
sorts of superiors, will please to read the text carefully, the arguments they use 
will vanish, whether they will or not. It is plain to a demonstration that as the 
Apostle does not here appoint any particular form of government, so he says 
nothing of the present rulers, but recommends subjection to governors in gen- 
eral ; and that from the consideration of the Divine institution of their office, 
and the advantage thereof to mankind, when right administered. To resist such 
governors as answer the end of their office, and the Apostle's representation, is, 
no doubt, a great crime, and deserves a proportionable punishment, called here 
Kpifia (judgment), both in this life, and that which is to come. But the resisting 
of tyranny and tyrants, falls not under the sentence of the Apostle. The text 
says nothing to the case of tyrants, but really excludes them as being another sort 
of creatures from what he describes, and the very reverse of that character which 
he gives the minister of God, to whom he requires subjection. To put this 
matter beyond dispute, let us suppose Nero here understood, as the advocates of 
this doctrine must mean, if they mean any thing, and try how nicely the text 
runs when thus applied : — 

" k I enjoin that every soul (Christian as well as others) be subject to the higher 
powers, for the powers that be are ordained of God. Nero (particularly as the 
head of the Roman empire) is so ; and whosoever resists him, shall receive dam- 
nation ; for he is not a terror to good works (murdering and persecuting the 
good) only to evil. Do well, and you have nothing to fear from Nero, for he is 
the minister of God for good, a revenger to execute wrath upon evil-doers ; so 
that it is your duty to be subject to Nero, not only for fear of punishment, but 
from conscience, and the fear of God. You ought to support him in all his 
power and dignity (which he so well employs) paying him such tribute as he 
demands, as is due to him ; for he is God's minister, continually attending on 
this very thing, carefully and watchfully discharging the duties of his office, pro- 
tecting all his subjects, restraining the injurious, defending the innocent, in every 
way promoting the good of the community.' This must be the sense of the 
Apostle, else the arguments on the other side are void of all meaning, and are 
nonsense. Now, I leave it to any person of common sense to determine, what 
a reflection it is upon the Apostle to make him speak in this manner. What 
would the Romans think of the Christians, when they heard them propagating so 
zealously a doctrine, \ipon the pain of damnation, which they condemned in the 
senate of Rome, when, by an act of the same, they condemned Nero as a tyrant, 



107 



for his murders and barbarities ? Could they have said any other thing than that 
Paul had espoused the cause of a murderer, whom they had by the Roman laws 
condemned, not only as unworthy of rule, but as unworthy to live. I must truly 
say that it is contrary, both to the reading and interpretation of the Apostle's 
words, to father upon him the doctrine of non-resistance ; for, as to passive 
obedience, it is an absurdity, there can be no such thing existing in the rational 
world. It belongs to stocks and stones to obey passively ; for no minds can yield 
obedience but from the heart. When a man is passive, he yields no obedience. 
But I think it may, with better reason, be concluded from the Apostle's words, 
that neither Christians nor any persons else, are bound to submit to unjust or 
tyrannical rulers, but on the contrary, if they do, they are doing all that is in their 
power to prostitute the ordinance of God, and giving the Apostle openly the lie. 

" They are not at all authorities of God, according to the Apostle, if they are 
a terror to good works, and a praise to evil ; for the authorities appointed by 
God are appointed for this end. And the authority that does not answer this 
end, is not an authority that it is lawful to obey. In such a case, the threatening 
should be read backwards, namely, 4 he that resisteth not the power shall receive 
(fCjO ma) judgment.' If any persons were to read a Greek Classic, as these advo- 
cates for passive obedience read the New Testament, they would be posted up as 
enemies to true literature and common sense, by all the literati in the three 
kingdoms. The Apostles have nowhere affirmed, that Christians, at the pleasure 
of despots, were to surrender their liberties more than others, who were fellow- 
citizens with them, in the same country. If both the rulers and the rest of the 
subjects differ with them, they have no other shift but to remonstrate against 
their oppression, suffer or forsake the country." 

Many other eminent writers explain and apply the passage in the same way. 
Thus Milton, in reply to Salmasius, says — " The words immediately after, make 
it as clear as the sun, that the Apostle speaks only of a lawful power ; for he 
gives us in them a definition of magistrates, and thereby explains to us who are 
the persons thus authorized,, and upon what account we are to yield obedience, 
lest we should be apt to mistake, and ground extravagant notions upon his dis- 
course. ' Magistrates,' says he, i are not a terror to good works, but to evil. 
JVilt tliou, tJien, not be afraid of tlie power ? Do that which is good, and thou 
shalt have praise of the same : for he is tlie minister of God to thee for good: he 
beareth twt the sword in vain ; for he is the minister of God, a revenger, to execute 
wrath upon him t/iat doeth evil.' What honest man would not willingly submit to 
such a magistracy as is here described, and that not only to avoid wrath, and for 
fear of punishment, but for conscience sake ? Whatever power enables a man, 
or whatsoever magistrate takes upon him to act contrary to what Paul makes the 
duty of those that are in authority, neither is that power nor that magistrate or- 
dained of God; and, consequently, to such a magistrate no subjection is com- 
manded, nor is any due ; nor are the people forbidden to resist such authority ; 
for in so doing, they do not resist the power nor the magistracy, as they are here 
excellently well described ; but they resist a robber, a tyrant, an enemy, who, if 
he may notwithstanding, in some sense, be called a magistrate upon this account 
only, because he has power in his hands— by the same reason, the devil may be 
called a magistrate." 

To the same effect Sydney comments on the words— (Disc, on Government, 



108 



vol. ii. p. 80,) — " He, therefore, is only the minister of God who is not a terror 
to good works, but to evil ; who executes wrath upon those that do evil, and is a 
praise to those that do well. And he who doeth well ought not to be afraid of 

the power, for he shall receive praise. Now, if our author * were alive 

I would ask him, whether in his conscience he believed that Tiberius, Caligula, 
Claudius, Nero, and the rabble of succeeding monsters, were a praise to those 
that did well, and a terror to those that did evil ; and not, on the contrary, a 

praise to the worst, and a terror to the best men of the world ? The 

worst men had no need to fear them, but the best had, because they were the 
best. All princes, therefore, that have power, are not to be esteemed equally 
the ministers of God. They that are so, must receive their dignity from a title 
that is not common to all, even from a just employment of their power, to the 
encouragement of virtue, and to the discouragement of vice. He that pretends 
to the veneration and obedience due to the ministers of God, must, by his ac- 
tions, manifest that he is so." 

Note B.— Page 33. 

Scriptural Qualifications essential to the Christian Magistracy. 

In opposition to what has been taught in the Discourse on the head of Scriptural 
Qualifications in the Christian Civil Magistrate, it has been maintained, that such 
qualifications are desirable, but by no means essential — that conscientious subjec- 
tion is due to every magiatracy that exists by providential permission, or that is 
set up by the majority of the people ; and the attempt has been more than once 
made to draw over the venerable Westminster Divines to support such views, by 
adducing the declaration in the Confession, (ch. xxiii. art. iv.)— " Infidelity, or 
difference in religion, doth not make void the Magistrate's just and legal autho- 
rity, nor free the people from their due obedience to him." There is abundant 
evidence that the compilers of our Standards, and those who succeeded them in 
testifying to the death for the principles which they espoused, Understood this 
assertion in a limited sense — as referrible solely to the case of a people in dark- 
ness, or only partially reformed. In the Sanqu/iar Declaration, published May 
28th, 1685, Mr. Renwick and the persecuted Presbyterians say — " It is incon- 
sistent with the safety of the faith, conscience, and Christian liberty of a Christian 
people, to choose a subject of Antichrist to be their magistrate ; and so it is that 
we understand that part of the 4th sect. chap, xxiii. of our Confession — ' Infi- 
delity or difference of religion,' &c. We acknowledge it to be true, indeed, that 
infidels, and those of a different religion, are not (chiefly because such) presently 
to be declared no magistrates ; for magistratus non est magistratus qua Chris- 
tianus, sed qua fiomo. So that the magistratical power considered generaliter, 
given for the good of human society, may be in the person of an infidel, or one 
of a different religion ; but considered specialiter, given for the good of the church, 
it is only in the person of a professor of the true religion. Hence in travelling 



Filmer. 



109 



or trafficking in foreign lands, be the persons in whom the power is, infidels, or 
of a different religion, we cannot refuse subjection to their laws, so far as they 
are consistent with the written Word of God, and our true Christian liberty. 
Howbeit, our Covenants and Acts of Parliament have put a bar upon the ad- 
mission of any, either infidels or of a different religion, while such, to govern in 
Scotland." 

To the same effect, the Supreme Judicatory of the Reformed Presbyterian 
Church declare,* that they understand this article " as principally relating to the 
condition of a people emerging out of the darkness and superstition of Paganism 
or Popery, &c, before that religion has obtained the sanction of civil authority ; 
when although the major part or bulk of a nation should embrace the true reli- 
gion, yet that does not dissolve or loose the relation subsisting between them and 
their civil riders, prior to their conversion, agreeable to, and founded upon the 
just and reasonable laws of the realm. In this case only, it is granted, that an 
infidel, or one of a different religion, may have authority just and legal over a 
people partly converted to the knowledge and gospel of Christ. Thus it was with 
the primitive Christians, and thus it was particularly with our ancestors in Scot- 
land, at the beginning of the reformation ; and this perfectly well agrees to the 
apostolical precept and determination in a case similar to the above, 1 Cor. vii. 
12, 13 and 39, and 2 Cor. vi. 14." Simple infidelity will not render the authority 
unjust, either in a Heathen country, or in one emerging from Pagan darkness ; 
neither will simple difference in religion make it void, when the nation has not by its 
public act made conformity an essential article of the constitution^ In the case, 
however, of a people professing the true religion, and taking the Bible as a rule 
of faith and manners, the matter is quite different. Infidelity and irreligion 
among such a people must either disqualify for the magistracy, or all those com- 
mands in Scripture which speak of magistrates being men fearing God, &c, must 
lose their obligation ; and the duty to cherish true religion and promote it cannot 
any longer be binding, for it would be absurd to expect such care from one who 
denies the faith, or who acknowledges not the obligations of genuine religion. 
It is by the preceptive will of God, and not by the conduct of Providence, that the 
Christian's duties towards civil rulers, as well as the character of these rulers 
themselves, must be determined. The legitimacy of authority exercised over a 
Christian people is clearly determined by its agreement or disagreement with the 
rule of God's Word. Deny this, and then the vilest and most cruel oppressors 
and persecutors possessing power by providential permission — and even the 
Devil himself, the " god of this world," may be acknowledged as rulers ordained 
by God, and submission may be rendered them for conscience' sake ! There is 
no alternative between adopting this absurd and monstrous opinion, and main- 
taining the principle for which we contend— that a due measure of Scriptural 
qualifications is indispensable to the being and validity of Civil Magistracy in a 
Christian land. 



* Act and Test. p. 17 k 



t See Wylie's Sons (\f Oil, \\ 87. 



110 

t 



Note C— Page 36. 

New System of National Education in Ireland. 

Among a professedly Christian people, one should think it a plain and obvious 
principle that the instruction of the rising generation should be based on the Scrip- 
tures of truth* It is not, indeed, maintained that the Bible will teach our youth 
all that may be needful to be known of the arts and sciences ; but if it was com- 
municated, as it professes to be, as a revelation from Heaven, to teach men their 
duties at every period and in every relation of life, then should its maxims be 
made the groundwork of all education. Whatever is opposed to the principles 
which it inculcates should be discarded, and at every stage of instruction reference 
should be made to its unerring decisions. " That the Bible is the religion of Pro- 
testants," is a maxim that should be held fundamental in every case where the 
government of a reformed nation legislates on the business of education. That 
it is the duty of the rulers of such a nation to provide a national system of in- 
struction, and to furnish the requisite support out of the national treasury, we 
fully admit. Every principle that requires them to consult and act for the public 
good, shows this to be their duty ; and though some may object, yet are they 
bound to carry into execution measures for improving the intellectual and moral 
condition of the community, despite of all opposition. But if it is the duty of a 
government to promote education, it is equally the duty of a Protestant govern- 
ment to make the revelation of Heaven the foundation of all their legislation on 
the subject. Even here, we would not by the force of law compel any to read 
the Scriptures, or to practise any other religious duty. The government being 
professedly Protestant ought to say, by all its public acts, that submission to the 
authority of God's word by the people is the rock of their safety — let this be once 
withheld, and it loses this character, and its existence as such ceases. It may 
not, indeed, compel Roman Catholics to embrace the truth, or force infidels 
to recognise the obligations of Christian duties — but surely it should make no 
law to countenance or extend the idolatry of the one, or to encourage the dan- 
gerous schemes of the other. The moment such a course of legislation is 
adopted, there may be inscribed upon the counsels of the nation — Ichabod, t/ie 
glory is departed. 

On these grounds, we cannot but regard the System of education, recently 
devised by the rulers of Britain for the poor of Ireland, as a great iniquity. Be- 
cause the Romish priesthood will not allow the unrestricted U6e of God's Word 
to the people, it decrees to exclude it from the schools ; and not only does this 
exclusion extend to schools where the pupils are of the Romish communion, but 
even Protestants will not be allowed the free use of the Scriptures for their chil- 
dren, in schools which are taken into connexion with the Board of Commissioners, 
appointed to carry into effect the provisions of the new system. We might 
notice various other evils of the plan — such as the absolute power over the 
schools vested in a Board composed of Popish Priests, Episcopalians, Socinians. 
and Presbyterians, and the Extracts which are to supplant the Bible — but we 
regard the authoritative exclusion of the Scriptures as the crowning iniquity, and 
we cannot but hold it up to decided reprobation. However specious the pre- 



Ill 



texts put forward to justify this measure, it can be viewed in no other light by 
any genuine witness for truth, than a fearful dereliction of duty by Christian 
rulers, and pregnant with the worst consequences to a Christian people. We 
know of no similar instance of legislating in open opposition to the Bible, ever 
having before occurred in any Protestant government. Believing, as we do, that 
mere education apart from a knowledge of the Scriptures is at least a doubtful 
advantage, as the cases of France and the South of Ireland abundantly testify, we 
hold that government should insist upon the admission of the Scriptures into all 
the schools which it patronises, and afterwards leave it to persons whether they 
will send their children or not — should they refuse, they are at liberty to provide 
for their education as they please. When they not only act not in this way, but 
dare, at the instigation of the devotees of Popery, to banish the Scriptures from 
the seminaries of youth, it is painfully evident that the conscience of the rulers 
is seared, and the nation is ripening for a scourge. We consider it a point now 
completely established, that, but for the unhappy interference of government in 
the case, Roman Catholics in Ireland would have continued to send their children 
to Scriptural schools, in spite of the anathemas of their Priests. The rulers of 
Britain must, therefore, answer for it that they have excluded the light from a 
people groaning under spiritual oppression, and, as far as in them lies, have de- 
livered them over to hopeless thraldom. 

An exposure of the evils of the New System of National Education, and 
an illustration of the principle that the Scriptures should be the basis of all 
education, will be found in various numbers of The Covenanter, vol. ii. Much 
valuable information on this subject is also contained in The Orthodox Presby- 
terian, vol. iii. — and in The Edinburgh Christian Instructor, and Dublin Christian 
Examiner for the present year ; also in Tfie Presbyterian Review, vol. ii. 

Note D. — Page 45. 

Obligation of the British Covenants. 

That the National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant 
of the three kingdoms are still binding upon the inhabitants of the British empire, 
and upon their descendants in other parts of the world, is capable of the most 
irrefragable proofs. Public religious covenanting is a mwal duty, having its 
foundation in the law of nature, and clearly taught in Clod's written law. Where- 
ever there has been found the belief of a God, even in Heathen countries, vowing 
has been practised, as an expression of man's obligation to him and dependence 
upon him. The Divine law issues the command — " Vow arid pay to the Lord 
your God ;" inculcating a duty which is equally incumbent upon communities as 
upon individuals. And the different precepts of the Decalogue imply solemn 
religious covenanting. The first requires us to avow our allegiance to God with 
all possible solemnity ; the second, to embody in our vows the whole of God's 
revealed will, as it respects the laws and ordinances of his worship ; and the 
third, to " swear the Lord liveth in truth, in righteousness, and in judgment." 
Now, all these commands, addressed to associations of men, as well as to indivi- 



112 



duals, imply confederation in the support of the cause of religion, and the ratifi- 
cation of such a confederacy by an oath. 

The example of the Church and nation of old that God chose to be a " pecu- 
liar treasure " to himself, furnishes a warrant for the practice of religious national 
covenanting in every future age. Israel covenanted at Horeb, three months 
after their departure from Egypt— (Exod. xix. xx. Deut. v. 28.)— again, nearly 
forty years afterwards, in the plains of Moab, over against Jericho — (Deut. xxvi. 
xxix.)— and frequently in subsequent periods of their history, as in the days of 
Joshua, (Josh, xxiv.), under Asa, (2 Chron. xv\), at the return from the Baby- 
lonish captivity, under Ezra and Nehemiah, (Ezra ix. Neh. ix.), &c. In these 
transactions, there were enjoyed manifest tokens of Divine approbation ; posterity 
were expressly included, (See Deut. v. 2, 3, and xxix. 14, 15.) ; and many gene- 
rations after, God mentions the violation of these federal deeds as the main ground 
of his controversy with the Israelitish people, (Jer. ii. 2, xi. 10, 11.) There was 
obviously nothing ceremonial or typical in the duty of covenanting as practised of 
old, nor was there in it any thing peculiar to Israel as a nation, that should neces- 
sarily terminate with their national existence ; of course, the duty is equally 
obligatory upon churches or nations still, even till the consummation of all things. 

Society, civil or ecclesiastical, is subject to the Divine government as well as 
individuals — it has a continued identity ; and, consequently, the national deeds 
of one generation must be regarded as involving in their obligation or conse- 
quences their successors, as long as the society lasts. On this principle, the 
visible Church under the Old and New Testament is one, and the Abrahamic 
Covenant, made 430 years before the promulgation of the law, is the charter of 
her privileges. In like manner, guilt descends from generation to generation, as 
the Amorites were cut off in the time of J oshua for ci-imes that had been ac- 
cumulating from the days of Abraham ; and Jerusalem was destroyed, and the 
nation of Israel dispersed, for a cup of iniquity that had been filling up from the 
time that they came out of Egypt, (Matth. xxiii. 31.) The two Witnesses are 
the same throughout the long period of their prophesying, and the Antichristian 
body for 1260 years is one, not merely in name, but in moral obligation to God's 
law, as a subject of blame and punishment. From such a consideration, it is 
easy to see how covenants entered into by public bodies have a descending obli- 
gation — the society being one, notwithstanding every change of incidental cir- 
cumstances, the engagements under which it comes must continue in force, and 
the duties to which they bind being moral, must be obligatory throughout all 
generations. Indeed, the common sense of mankind, and the usages of nations, 
corroborate the doctrine of the perpetual obligation of covenants. Covenants, 
expressed or implied, are the very bonds of human society, without which it 
could not continue to exist. A person never hesitates to include his heirs and 
executors in a civil deed as well as himself, and his posterity will not fail to claim 
advantages secured to them by the transactions of their ancestors, or to perform 
services, even when the condition may be troublesome. The Magna C/iarta, 
though the covenant was entered into between the people and their rulers 600 
years ago, is still considered the great bulwark of English liberty; the National 
Debt, which was first contracted in the reign of William III., attaches to the 
nation at this day, though not one of the original contractors, or of those who 
then constituted the nation is now alive ; and acts of Parliament passed several 



113 



hundred years ago, are still regarded as the laws of the realm. Prophecies, ex- 
pressly referring to the New Testament dispensation, as in Jer. xxxi. 31. Isaiah 
xix. 18. Isaiah xliv. 5, &c, assure us that the practice of public covenanting 
should be followed in the times of the Gospel; and the instance of the churches 
of Macedonia, recorded 2 Cor. viii. 5, shows clearly that the primitive Christians 
recognized the duty, and were early found in its performance. From all this 
evidence, it is abundantly manifest that our pious forefathers .had the fullest war- 
rant for framing the British Covenants, as an important means of promoting the 
Divine glory, and securing the blessings of civil and religious liberty; and that 
these covenants have a continued obligation upon the inhabitants of Britain, 
whether they choose to acknowledge it or not. They were, in the strictest sense 
of the expression, national deeds; they engaged to the performance of duties as 
important at present as at any former period ; and they have been a means, 
under God, of transmitting to us invaluable privileges. Prom these consider- 
ations, we are bound to maintain the perpetual moral obligation of the federal 
deeds of our ancestors ; and we fear not to affirm, that if the futile objections 
that are usually advanced against them were admitted, we might then affirm that 
no compacts among men, civil or religious, oblige, beyond the parties who imme- 
diately enter into them, and even that there never was, nor will be, any deed 
binding upon the nation at large. 

The doctrine of the perpetual obligation of the British Covenants, has an 
important bearing upon the question of the Magistrate's interference in behalf 
of religion. What was the National Covenant but just the national establishment 
of true religion in Scotland ? Both in it and the Solemn League and Covenant, 
men of all ranks and conditions solemnly pledged themselves publickly to avouch 
the Lord to be their God, to cherish the Church, and to restrain and repress 
whatsoever was prejudicial to the interests of truth and the power of godliness. 
The celebrated Brown of Haddington, in his second letter on Toleration, clearly 
establishes the perpetual obligation of the Covenants of Britain, and thence 
demonstrably shows the right of the Magistrate in these lands to restrain and 
punish gross heretics, idolaters and blasphemers. It deserves to be remarked, 
that the strenuous opponents of Ecclesiastical Establishments of the present day 
deny the doctrine of the obligation of our covenants, and even the morality of 
national covenanting in New Testament times. Consistency requires that they 
should act thus. Well are we convinced that the opinion that Civil Magistrates 
in Christian lands should do nothing, in their official capacity, to support the 
Church of Christ, and to restrain the open enemies of her peace and prosperity, 
necessarily leads to similar consequences. The plea about a cMnge of dispensa- 
tion is equally valid in the one case as the other ; and all the objections against 
this part of magistratical interference, relative to, liberty of conscience, persecution, 
&c, have been frequently advanced by those who deny the obligation of the 
federal deeds of our forefathers, and have been as frequently met by the advo- 
cates of the Covenanted Reformation. 

[See " Observations on the Public Covenants betwixt Owl and the Q'turch," by 
Rev. A. Mason, Wishawtown ;— Muirhead's " Dissertaiions on the Federal Trans- 
actions between God and his Church;" — " Tfie Obligation of the Covenants," by 
Rev. Sam. B. Wylie, D.D., Philadelphia;— Stevenson's " Plea for the Covenanted 
Reformation in Britain and Ireland," and Brown on Toleration.] 

P 



114 



Note E— Page 71. 

History of Opinions denying the Magistrate's Power circa sacra. 

The following account of the rise and progress of the sentiments that impugn 
the doctrine of the Westminster Sta?idards on the subject of the Christian 
Magistrate's coercive and punitive power employed in protecting the Church and 
true religion, from the pen of the historian of Knox and Melville, is in itself inter- 
esting, and may serve to confirm some in the faith once delivered to the saints. 
When the abettors of these tenets are placed in contrast with the venerable 
names that we have referred to as maintaining the doctrine which we advocate, 
the friend of truth will feel little disposed to envy the company which the person 
chooses who denies the Magistrate's coercive and punitive power in matters of 
religion : — 

" At an early period of the Reformation on the Continent, certain sects of 
separatists from the body of Protestants appeared, who began to propagate pecu- 
liar opinions about the nature and exercise of the office of civil magistrates among 
Christians, the nature of the kingdom of Christ, and Christian liberty, especially 
in reference to religion, as to which every person and sect were to be left to 
their own humour or liking, without respect to public authority. Among these, 
the Anabaptists, Socinians, and those denominated Libertines, were distinguished ; 
by whom commotions were excited in various places, both in civil and ecclesias- 
tical society. In Holland, during the first part of the 17th century, after the 
difference between the Calvinists and Arminians came to a height, the latter, 
(though they had formerly carried the magistrate's power circa sacra higher than 
was allowed by the reformed churches,) finding the States-General and greater 
part of the inferior magistrates unfriendly to their cause, began to impugn their 
authority to interfere with causes of a religious nature, and pleaded for an almost 
boundless toleration, and the exemption of all peaceable subjects from the acts of 
synods and magistrates in matters of conscience. In England, during the sitting 
of the Westminster Assembly, after some progress had been made for settling 
religion by authority, according to the Solemn League, a number of sectaries 
appeared, who, in order to hinder a new national establishment, vented these 
tenets in their discourses and writings, and insisted for a general toleration and 
liberty ; and rested not, until those who favoured their scheme wrested the sword 
out of the hands of the Presbyterians, and seized on every part of the govern- 
ment, which they employed for their own purposes, involving all the three king- 
doms again in bloody wars, and restricting considerably the due freedom of the 
ministry and ecclesiastical courts ; though under the republic and the usurpation 
of Cromwell, for political reasons, the laws that had been made for settling reli- 
gion were never repealed, but only restricted and new-modelled. 

u Under the tyranny of the two brothers, Charles II. and James, when all 
classes of Dissenters were suffering under the severity of the laws against non- 
conformity, some of these principles were occasionally urged to expose the 
injustice of persecution, especially in the disputes occasioned by the acts of 
indulgence and toleration. In these the Quakers took an active part, and carried 
the doctrine of toleration to the greatest latitude ; on which account their leader, 



115 



Pen, became a favourite at court, and a tool for the introduction of Popery, under 
that specious pretext, immediately before the Revolution in Britain. About this 
time, some philosophical writers and political defenders of the rights of subjects, 
against the encroachments of arbitrary power and the system of persecution 
which had long prevailed, among whom Mr. Locke was the most eminent and 
successful, while they laid down and defended the juster principles of free 
government, did not always observe the due limits, nor in every point accurately 
explain or warily balance the rights of rulers and subjects, particularly in refer- 
ence to religion : though they did not go to the extreme into which those who 
succeeded them have gone. The affinity that appeared in some points between 
the maxims of government adopted at the Revolution and the tenets of the sec- 
taries, gave to the latter greater credit and currency. Their apparent tendency 
to rid the world of the infernal monster, Persecution, disposed many to entertain 
a favourable opinion of them, and they were embraced by numbers, especially 
among Dissenters in England and Ireland, and among the warm advocates for 
the Whig interest of different religious creeds ; among whom were a number of 
free-thinkers, who by their writings began to disseminate these principles, as 
some of the same character abroad had artfully and successfully done. These 
principles were introduced into Scotland more lately than into the neighbouring 
nation, and did not spread so rapidly here. During the course of the 18th 
century, after they were vented by Mr. Glass, they were condemned, and cen- 
sures passed upon their abettors, both by the National Church and by the judi- 
catories of the Secession. Of late, however, they have been circulated very 
extensively, being not only warmly cherished and patronised by the various 
classes of Anabaptists and Independents, but having also leavened Presbyterian 
churches, and, among the rest, two large bodies of Seceders. 

" These opinions, being gradually combined with the principles of civil liberty, 
began to be extolled as essential to it, under the imposing names of freedom of 
inquiry, right of private judgment, rights of men, &c. But the scheme, in all its 
extent, and as avowed in modern times, goes beyond the genuine principles of 
Protestant and British liberty, civil or religious, is incompatible with the spirit of 
the laws and the established system of government still subsisting in free states 
and kingdoms, and even exceeds the bounds to which the abettors of it, who had 
any regard to religion, ventured to carry it in former times. Indeed, the modern 
theory which teaches the total disunion of civil polity and religion, and that mat- 
ters of religion pertain not to the province of civil rulers, has not yet been adopted 
into the constitution or code of any civil legislature. Attempts were made to 
reduce it to practice in two modern republics, whose revolutions have made 
such noise in the world but even in these the theory has not been fully realized, 
and the experiments that have been tried are very far from exhibiting, by their 
process and effects, a proof of its wisdom and utility. 

" The scheme was not, however, carried to its most dangerous height, until it 
was adopted, and refined from the adhesion of religious fanaticism, by sceptical 
writers, philosophical infidels, and modem pretended illuminati, who employed 
it artfully and covertly to undermine and shake all established systems of religion, 
and to deprive them of the support of government; partly out of hatred of all 



* France and America. 



116 

church power, partly from pride and fondness to oppose common sentiments ; 
sometimes to humour the spirit of irreligion, and libertinism among the great 
and fashionable, or the propensity to licentiousness among the populace, and at 
the same time to accommodate themselves to unprincipled rulers and politicians, 
who wished to be free from the restraints of religion, and the burden of caring 
for it, and whose sole aim and end were the advancement of their secular inter- 
ests and policy. To some of these writers we owe the warm defence of the 
doctrines of the absolute sovereignty and uncontrollable empire of conscience, of 
a moral sense, taste or feeling, the infallible test of truth, the independent arbiter 
of right and wrong in morals and religion. And, as Archimedes demanded but 
one point on which to stand to fix his lever, and he would move the world, so 
if they could but once firmly establish this one position, upon which to rest their 
apparatus, they know it might be possible to heave up and remove the whole 
incumbent weight of government, civil or ecclesiastical. No authority would be 
left in these matters to interfere, but what would suffer every man to do what was 
right in his own eyes, as in those days (happy days surely !) when there was no 
king in Israel. 

" Sectarian principles are opposed to unity and uniformity in religion, and to 
the proper means for promoting these, whether by civil or ecclesiastical society. 
In the present controversy they are considered chiefly with reference to civil 
authority-, and are so called, not only because they have been commonly held by 
sects that had separated from the great body in Protestant churches, but also on 
account of their tendency to produce and foster endless sects, by patronizing, in- 
stead of checking all sorts of religious opinions and different forms of worship. 
Though they are sometimes denominated a new scheme, or new principles, and 
sometimes new light, because they are recommended, in our times, as the effect 
of further light and improvements than our fathers were blessed with, yet it will 
be evident to any acquainted with modern church history and literature, that, 
from whatever source they may have been immediately drawn, whether from the 
religious sectaries above-mentioned, the sentiments of latitudinarian and socini- 
anizing divines, or the schools of more modern philosophers, they are far from 
being new. Every proposition and favourite phrase, the very modes of expres- 
sion used in argument, explication, or declamation, are but a repetition of what 
may be found almost verbatim, in a variety of productions left by their worthy 
predecessors. They may indeed be allowed to be new in the mouths and creeds 
of Scots Presbyterians andSeceders; and to try T to incorporate them with their 
former profession, and render them consistent with their former subscriptions, is 
certainly a new and very barefaced attempt*"* 

Note F.- Page 83. 

Additional Testimonies relative to the Magistrate's Funitive Power in ?natters of 

religion. 

In addition to the authorities quoted in the Discourse, may be subjoined a few 
extracts from the writings of eminent divines, some of whom were in connexion 



117 



with the Reformed Covenanted Church, and others belonged to different com- 
munions — but all of whom speak decidedly in favour of the Civil Magistrate's 
right to punish for gross outward transgressions of the first table of the Divine law. 

Thus writes the godly Rutherford*—" If the Magistrate, also, in the New 
Testament have the sword given to him of God, for the punishment of evil-doers, 
as Rom. xiii. 4, 5, that same law (i. e. the judicial law for punishing heretics, 
idolaters.) must now also have force." " Except God was too rigorous and cruel 
in the Old Testament, (God avert such blasphemous thoughts !) whatever punish- 
ment was inflicted upon heretics,, seducing prophets, idolaters, apostates, these 
same stcaid yet in the plenitude of moral obligation against such as offend in the 
New Testament, if the magistrate bears the Lord's sword, as he doth in the New 
Testament." Again, he says — " That the king's end intrinsical, as king, is more 
than external or natural peace, is clear, because ill-doing against which he is the 
minister of God, is to execute vengeance and wrath, (Rom. xiii. 3, 4.) is not only 
that which is contrary to external quietness of the commonwealth, and the natu- 
ral happiness of civil societies, but also that which is contrary to the happiness 
supernatural of the Church as believers in the way to life eternal^ for he is to 
take vengeance upon blasphemy, idolatry, professed unbelief, &c. The magi- 
strate, as the magistrate, is to execute vengeance upon all external ill-doing, as 
blasphemy, adoring of idols." 

Durham, the learned expositor of the Revelations, and a distinguished minister, 
and member of the General Assembly, in his treatise on Scandal, states at large 
the magistrate's province in restraining heresy and blasphemy. He says — 
" Magistrates have this for a special part of their task, to keep his ordinances 
pure, and to restrain the corrupters of them ;-" and he argues, that the magistrate 
should not tolerate the spreading of dangerous errors and delusions, and that he 
ought to punish those who are engaged in such a work — " For," says he, " such 
errors are ill deeds, and such spreaders are ill-doers, bringing great prejudice to 
people, Gal. v. 20 ; 2 John v. 11. 2. Magistrates ought to be a terror to evil- 
doers indefinitely, and I suppose if the sword be borne in vain in reference to 
them, the conscience will not have ground of quietness in the day of judgment, 
upon a distinction of evil-doers,, when the Lord hath made none such in their 
commission. 3. They ought to be zealous of his honour who is their superior, 
and that his name be not blasphemed ; and can such be tolerate without this con- 
struction upon the matter, that men have liberty to blaspheme the name of God, 
to abuse his truth, reproach his ordinances, and to take his name in vain as they 
will. 4. Are they not to seek the people's good ? And is there any such good 
as their spiritual good ? Or are there any such enemies to that as seducers?" 
In reply to the plea of conscience, Durham cogently inquires — " What if, under 
pretext of conscience, magistracy should be denied to be an ordinance of God, 
and be put therefrom, upon that account, that the people thought it unlawful to 
obey him ? Would not readily his conscience say, that seeing he restrained not 
others from casting at these ordinances, in which the honour of God and good 
of souls were so much concerned, that it was just with God to permit them to 
east at that ordinance also, wherein he is so mainly concerned ? And, indeed; 



• Rutherford's Divine Right of Presbytery, p. 3o7, 3yt. 



118 



this hath not been unfrequently seen, that those who have begun to cast at Church 
ordinances, have come at length, as if they had been thereto disposed by the 
former, to cast at civil ordinances (to speak so) also ; and what wonder is it, see- 
ing there is no more clear warrant from God for the one than for the other ?" * 
Thorburn, in his " Vindicice Magistratus" repeatedly asserts the principle for 
which we contend — " And thus," says he, " I think, the civil suppression, re- 
straint and discouragement of manifest idolatry and superstition, open blasphemy 
and heresy, which the Divine law makes to be one particular part of the magi- 
strate's work, can by no means be a detriment, but must be a benefit to religious 
society ?" t To this list of eminent writers of the Reformed Church, I may only 
add the Rev. Thomas Henderson, who, in various valuable pieces, maintains and 
vindicates the magistrate's coercive and punitive power in the matters of religion. 
" Where," asks he, " would be the tyranny of God's public minister, appointed 
to be the keeper of both tables of the law, restraining false modes of worship, 
positively forbidden by the Supreme Lawgiver ? Is it any tyranny for a master 
to oblige his servants, by his authority, to observe the Sabbath, and to restrain 
them from evil company and immoral actions thereon, to reward the more faith- 
ful, and to encourage them, by example and precept, to abstain from evil and to 
do good ? May not a Magistrate, as God's public deputy, who is favoured with 
the true knowledge of the Divine law, and set up by a nation, which has adopted 
the profession of the true religion into its civil establishment, as Britain has done, 
suppress every thing by his authority, which is contrary to that establishment, 
and give his sanction only to what is agreeable thereto ? And if heretics will 
corrupt the morals of men, by introducing and propagating idolatry and super- 
stition, which are procurative of God's judgements, and subversive of the good 
of civil society, why may not God's minister punish the same according to his 
own holy law ? " Elsewhere he adds — " It has never yet been proved that the 
Reformed Presbytery ever required the Civil Magistrate to punish any, either 
by capital or corporal punishment, who had not subjected themselves thereto by 
the open violation of God's law ; this law requiring them to be so punished. But if 
idolatry be as inimical to the interests of civil society as theft, forgery, or robbery, 
why may not God's minister punish the former as well as the latter, according to 
his own law ?" + 

Dr. Samuel B. Wylie, of Philadelphia, in his discourse entitled " The Two 
Sons of Oil," &c. teaches at large the magistrate's power circa sacra, as we have 
stated it. One of his positions (p. 62) is, that " He (the civil magistrate) ought, 
by his civil power, to remove all external impediments to the true religion and 
worship of God, whether they be persons or things ; such as persecution, profane- 
»ess, heresy, idolatry, and their abettors, as did Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other 



* Durham on Scandal— Part III. c. 12. p. 220, Edin. 1680. 

t Vindicice Magistrates, p. 97. To the same effect is the sentiment of Fairley— See his 
Answer to Goodlet, pp. 81, 84, 268, 274. 

\ Henderson's Preface to Testimony Bearing Exemplified, pp. \'3, 17. Mr. H. adds in the 
latter passage, showing the source whence the liberal opinions respecting the magistracy 
have sprung — ** It is truly mournful that a professed Presbyterian should have copied after 
the sectarian distinctions between the ancient Israelitish commonwealth and the evangelical 
kingdom, as Mr. H. (his opponent) has evidently done, after that noted Independent, John 
Glass, who renounced Presbyterianism both in name and thing." 



119 



pious kings." This point he illustrates by various striking examples ; and after- 
wards, (p. 88,) in replying to the objection respecting persecution, he says — " What- 
soever the law of God commands to be punished, ought to be punished, with the 
penalties therein made and provided ; but God has commanded gross heretics, 
blasphemers and idolaters, to be punished with certain specified penalties: there- 
fore, such ought to be punished. 

" These commands could not belong to the ceremonial law, for, then, they 
would have flowed entirely from the arbitrary will of God, and been mere signs 
betwixt him and Israel. Who would dare to think so of gross heresy ? &c. 
Neither could they belong to that part of the judicial law which respected the 
Jews peculiarly. Who would dare to say, that none but the Jews were or are 
under obligation to worship God in purity, or abstain from blaspheming his nature 
and dignity ? They must, therefore, belong to the moral law, and flow from the 
moral nature of Jehovah, who has declared he will not give his glory to another, 
nor his praise to graven images." 

Rev. James R. Willson, D.D., Albany, in his " History of Opinions respecting 
the Atonement" likewise explicitly declares—" It was a maxim universal among 
Christians at that time, that as God once gave commandment to punish gross 
blasphemers, and as they could not discover that he had ever repealed the law, it 

was still in force, and magistrates were bound to execute, it at their peril 

" If Jesus Christ is God, he who opposes this truth, and endeavours to propa- 
gate his opinions, is as guilty as he who would contend that God, the eternal 
Father, is a mere man. Will they maintain, that rebellion against Jehovah is 
less criminal than rebellion against an earthly monarch?" — Historical Sketch of 
Opinions on t/ie Atonement — Dr. James R. Willson — Note, p. 29. 

To close this list of writers in the Reformed Church, which could readily be 
still farther extended, we may mention, that an eminent Father, who recently 
entered into his rest, and whose praise is in all the churches, the Rev. IVilliam 
Stavely, in the conclusion of a work against Deism, entitled " An Appeal to 
Light," when proposing several methods for preventing the progress of Deism — 
which, he says, cannot " convey the least idea of persecution, or unfair treatment, 
or unbrotherly conduct towards Deists "— gives it as his deliberate judgment, 
that "every Magistrate" should, " in his distinct sphere," " endeavour to prevent, 
or bring to deserved punishment, all persons wlw encourage Deistical principles, 
as the same are destructive to both religious and civil society." 

The advocacy of the Christian magistrate's right to punish gross heretics, 
blasphemers, and idolaters, has not been confined to those who were in imme- 
diate connexion with the Reformed Covenanted Church. In reviewing the past 
history of Presbyterianism in Britain, we are irresistibly led to the conclusion 
that the principle which we have seen was embodied in the doctrinal standards 
of all the churches of the reformation, and maintained by many renowned martyrs 
and confessors in an earlier day, has been firmly held by a succession of eminent 
divines in other sections of the church, even till the present time. At present, I 
can only wait to quote the testimony of two illustrious men in the Secession, in 
proof of this statement — these are, Brown of Haddington, and Dr. M'Crie, tlie 
Biographer of Knox, and yet a living renowned advocate of reformation principles.* 



* Without an exception, the father* of the Secession Church held precisely the same prin- 



120 



The former, in his work on " Toleration," brings forward a mass of Scripture evi- 
dence in support of the principle which he defends — that of the magistrate's in- 
terference for the suppression of heresy, blasphemy, and idolatory. One passage 
may suffice to show his opinion on the subject. " It (the law of nature) plainly 
teacheth that if God graciously grant us a supernatural revelation, directive of 
our faith, profession, and practice, we ought thankfully to receive, believe, pro- 
fess, and obey it — that if magistrates ought to restrain and punish gross immo- 
ralities, they ought to restrain that error or worship, which, being a manifestly 
damning work of the flesh, natively leads men into such immoralities — and that 
if heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry, hinder the progress of virtue, or the increase 
of good men, who are the principal support and blessings of a society, they ought 
to be restrained. If heresy, blasphemy, and idolatry established, or authorita- 
tively tolerated, eminently and notoriously provoke God to punish nations with 
sword, famine, pestilence, poverty, decay of trade, desolation, captivity, or the 
like, as they have often done, even among Heathens, common sense requires that 
every magistrate, from regard to the welfare of his subjects, ought to restrain 
them as far as his circumstances can prudently permit ; instead of giving them 
as much liberty, encouragement, or protection as he gives to the religion of Jesus 
Christ, which hath the promises of this life, and of that which is to come." * 
Dr. M'Crie thus declares the magistrate's duty — "It is his duty to watch over 
its (the church's) external interests, and to exert himself, in his station, to pre- 
serve upon the minds of his subjects an impression of its obligations and sanc- 
tions, and to suppress irreligion, impiety, profanity, and blasp/iemy." f In the 
Act and Testimony of the Associate Synod of original Seceders, recently pub- 
lished, in the compilation of which the same distinguished man had a principal 
share, the same doctrine is declared ; and it is added, " It cannot be accounted 
persecution to restrain or punish the grosser violations of even the first table of 
the Divine law, such as blasphemy, profane swearing, and the -open violation of 
the Sabbath, by amusements or secular employments." X 

Stevenson, in his " Plea for t/ie Covenanted Reformation" &c. teaches the 
same doctrine. Remarking, that the Westminster Confession does not warrant 
the Magistrate to " employ civil pains for promoting " supernatural religion, he 
proceeds to observe — " This limitation must not be extended, however, to the 
more flagrant breaches even of the first table of the moral law, such as blasphemy, 
profane swearing, and even Sabbath-breaking. These crimes are opposed, not 
only to supernatural religion, but also to natural law, and sap the very founda- 
tions of public morals. They come, therefore, under the direct cognizance of 
civil rulers. In punishing these crimes, however, by civil pains, civil rulers are 
to do so with a sole relation to the ends of their office, or as offences against the 
state, and not as scandals against religious society 7 . Still, in the faithful discharge 
of their duty in this respect, they contribute in no small degree to the advance- 
ment of pure and undefiled religion. The laws of the State for suppressing these 



ciples on the article of the magistrate's power circa sacra, as are advanced in this discourse. 
In his Dictionary of the Bible, on the word Rule, Brown stionjjly asserts similar truths as 
are quoted above. 

* Brown on Toleration, p. 36. + Statement, p. 80. 

X Act and Testimony, p. 62, 65. 



121 



and sbnilar crimes, constitute one principal part of the Civil Reformation under 
the reforming periods* and they afford one instance in which the State may co- 
operate with the Church, in promoting the public reformation of a country, with- 
out encroaching upon her jurisdiction."— Plea, &c. p. 18, 19. 

Note G.— Page 94. 

Next to the Objection against the doctrine taught in the discourse, relative to 
persecution, those which seem to demand special notice are taken from the change 
of dispensation— the countenance that might be taken from our principles to 
establish a false religion and oppress the righteous — and the supposed necessity 
of an infallible declaration respecting what constitutes heresy, idolatry, &c. Each 
of these demands a passing notice. 

1. It is argued, that the Jewish economy was adapted for the Church in a state 
of childhood — the Antediluvian age being the Church's infancy, and the Gospel 
dispensation her mature state. God, it is said, dealt with his people according to 
the different design of each condition, applying temporal punishments to keep 
men in subjection of old, but applying only spiritual correction under the New 
Testament; — from all this it is inferred, that the Christian Civil Magistrate should 
now allow heretics, blasphemers, and idolaters, however notorious, to remain 
without any restraints or punishment. 

To this it may be replied, that the comparison by no means holds good. If 
the Antediluvian age was the state of infancy, then men were, by the very terms 
of the supposition, unfit subjects of discipline or punishment ; and yet the Divine 
testimony concerning them is — " And God saw that the wickedness of man was 
great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart ivas 
only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the 
earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I ivill destroy man 
whom I have created, from the face of the earth."— (Gen. vi. 5 — 7.) The event 
corresponded to this fearful denunciation: the human family, eight only excepted, 
were destroyed by the flood, as notorious and incorrigible transgressors. Was 
this dealing with them as innocent, unoffending infants ? The Old Testament 
Church, under the Mosaic economy, was " under tutors and governors," in rela- 
tion to ceremonial hedges, laws and times alone, for this is the Apostle's allusion, 
(Gal. iv. 1,2, &c); but there is no evidence that the discipline was rigorous. 
The legal economy, as far as the correction and punishment of sin were concerned, 
was distinguished for forbearance rather than severity. Witness the repeated re- 
missions of punishment at the intercession of Moses — the permission of concubinage, 
polygamy— the deliverances wrought for Israel after flagrant national idolatry — the 
commutation of crimes for pecuniary mulcts, &c. — and, if this gratuitous assump- 
tion will still be held to, we might ask what was all the bloodshed that accompanied 
the introduction or continuance of the legal dispensation in comparison of the wars, 
persecutions, &c, that were occasioned by the setting up of Christianity, or of 
the judgments which Jehovah has been inflicting continually upon guilty Chris- 
tian nations ? The grand fallacy, however, of this specious objection lies m 
confounding t/ie interpositions of Divine Providence in the gover nment of mankind 
and the Church, with the defined and commanded duties of the civil friagistrate, 
, Q 



whether Jewish or Christian. God may punish or dispense with punishment as 
he pleases. With men in power the case is far otherwise. The Jewish magis- 
trate was simply to abide by the instructions contained in the Divine law, irrespec- 
tive of the consideration, whether God in his providence spared the blasphemer 
or idolater, or not. In a similar way, the official conduct of the Christian magis- 
trate should still be regulated. The laws respecting the restraint and punishment 
of heresy, idolatry, &c, as far as they were founded in common equity, were 
expressly given by God ; they are no where said to be repealed ; of consequence 
they remain in the plenitude of moral obligation, the Christian magistrate's 
directory, and are to be applied by him, with suitable modifications, under the 
Gospel. The case of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first 
day of the week, is most obviously not in point. The Sabbath rest is not abro- 
gated, and even the change from one day to another is not made without numer- 
ous examples, which are equivalent to express precept, in the New Testament. 
No such sanction can be pleaded in favour of the unbounded toleration of gross 
heresy and idolatry by the Christian magistrate under the Gospel. The whole 
authority for such an assumption is therefore mere unfounded conjecture. 
If the plea, that the dispensation is milder, be sufficient to exempt the 
magistrate from employing his coercive and punitive power in matters of religion, 
why may it not serve to free murderers, adulterers, and false-witnesses from 
restraint and punishment, as well as openly gross heretics, idolaters and blas- 
phemers, that vex and destroy Christian societies ? 

2. The principle that the Christian Magistrate should establish the true re- 
ligion, and repress error, it has been contended is of dangerous tendency, as it 
might afford a sanction for the establishment of false worship, and the oppression 
of the saints. Every man will think his own way right : even the atrocities of the 
Inquisition, it has been alleged, might be justified on this ground. This argument 
hardly merits serious consideration. It might be stated thus — it is the duty of the 
head of a Christian family to establish the true worship of God in his house, there- 
fore has a Mahometan a Divine right to command his household to worship the 
false Prophet, or a Pagan or an apostate to offer seed to Moloch. Again, a Christian 
Magistrate should manifest his concern for the Divine glory by becoming a " nurs- 
ing father to the Church," therefore the " kings of the earth " have the same right 
to " give their power to the beast," and to commit fornication with the mother of 
harlots. And the ministers of God were enjoined to be a terror to evil-doers, such 
as notorious blasphemers, heretics and idolaters — therefore wicked rulers have 
equally the command of Heaven to oppress the saints. Such reasoning is too 
absurd to need confutation. Let it be home in mind that it is the true religion 
and the true Church, the faithful spouse of Christ, whose establishment we 
plead ; and the idolatries and heresies, whose repression we inculcate as the duty 
of the Christian Civil Magistrate, are such as are openly and obstinately avowed 
and propagated— such as are clearly declared in God's Word, and can be proven 
by two or more witnesses — and such as are manifestly detrimental to the peace 
and welfare of a reformed nation. When such a case can be made out for the 
conduct of wicked rulers in establishing false worship and persecuting the saints, 
then, but not sooner, will the objection have weight ! 

3. But it is finally said, that in order to a Christian Magistrate acting as we 
require in repressing heresy and idolatry, there is need for an infallible tribunal, 



123 

and an infallible decision in every case— otherwise the truth, and not heresy, may 
be oppressed, and the righteous may suffer instead of the wicked. 

This argument is more plausible than cogent. It proceeds on the infidel senti- 
ment, that in matters of religion, truth and error are indistinguishable, and that 
there is no certainty in articles to be believed. On this ground, there could be 
no such thing as a heretic or an idolater in the world. Of course, the Apostle 
Paul greatly erred when he enjoined not to eat with an idolater, and to reject an 
heretic ; and the Apostle J ohn when he commanded, by the Spirit, not to receive 
into the house a false teacher, or to extend to him the common rites of hospital- 
ity.— (1 Cor. v. 11 ; Tit. iii. 10; 2 John 10.) The persons, it may as well be 
argued in these cases as in the other, are not infallible, and therefore they would 
egregiously err in acting on these directions, as they might be mistaking truth for 
error, and confounding the righteous with the wicked. By the same reason, 
parents should not give religious instruction to their children, nor ministers of 
the Gospel teach fundamental doctrines to their flocks, or exercise discipline to 
the exclusion of the erroneous or unworthy. In neither case are they infallible, 
and their responsibility is even greater than that of the magistrate in exercising 
his official power for restraining the heretical and idolatrous, inasmuch as then- 
instructions and censures concern the inner man, and affect the condition for 
eternity. The objection that leads to such consequences has evidently little 
weight. Let it always be remembered, that tlie Christian Magistrate has the in- 
fallible rule of God's word to direct him, and that it is overt acts of gross idolatry 
and heresy, which can be proved by many witnesses, that call for his interference 
to suppress them — and it loses all force. No more infallibility is required in 
such a case, than in restraining and punishing other common offences, according 
to the received laws of the State. 



The following note should be inserted at page 43. 

* As persons are liable to be misled by names, and there are some who find it 
more convenient to stamp an opprobrious epithet on the opinions of an opponent 
than to confute his reasoning, the following epitome of the principles of Erastian- 
ism, by Dr. M'Leod, in his " Scriptural Fiew," (p. 78,) may not be out of place. 
Having remarked that these doctrines have their name from Thomas Erastus, 
a divine and physician, who was born at Baden, in Switzerland, in 1624, and 
was afterwards a professor in the University of Heidelberg, and that they are 
chiefly developed in his book on Excommunication, he adds — " That Christ and 
his Apostles prescribed no forms of discipline for the Church — that the supreme 
ecclesiastical power belongs to the civil magistrate— that ministers are only 
teachers possessed of the right of public persuasion — that to the government of 
the state belongs the right of admitting members into the Church, and excluding 
them from it— that the Church of Christ is a department of the civil common- 
wealth, are the sentiments of Erastus." It may serve a purpose, in some 
quarters, to stigmatise the sentiments that maintain the duty of the civil 
magistrate to foster and protect the Church, as Erastian ; but the candid in- 



124 



quirer will not be misled by such puny attempts. We regard, with abhorrence, 
the ecclesiastical supremacy of the King of Great Britain over the English Church, 
and his Erastian power in the Church of Scotland ; and we view both as essen- 
tially Antichristian, as well as the spiritual supremacy of the Pope of Rome. 
Nothing that is advanced in the discourse, we are persuaded, affords the least 
countenance or support to the one or the other. 



FINIS. 



Stuart & Gregg, Printers, Belfast. 



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